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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

International rivalries are discussed with an emphasis on their relevance to U.S. national security. Social-scientific research on these protracted, antagonistic, and often violent relationships serves as a wellspring of insight into national security challenges. A primary focus on rivalries between sovereign states is supplemented with discussion of rivalries involving nonstate actors, including armed groups associated with insurgency and terrorism. To anchor these discussions, the chapter briefly denotes definitional, conceptual, and operational aspects of rivalry research. Rivalries are linked to U.S. national security concerns through first-, second-, and third-order effects. The challenge of overcoming histories of hostility to achieve peaceful resolution of rivalries is examined. Future directions in rivalry research, including the imperative to incorporate contemporary policy concerns (such as cybersecurity and emerging technologies and techniques associated with international conflict), are discussed in a forward-looking manner that emphasizes the complementarity of scholarship and policy arenas.

Keywords: rivalry, crisis, arms race, recurrent conflict, nonstate actors, insurgency, terrorism, cybersecurity, civil war, strategy

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