The role of China looms large in academic and public debates over the feared waning of Pax Americana (Shaplen and Laney 2007; Cha 2007). Barring cataclysmic domestic political upheavals in that country, were its current economic growth rates averaging 10 percent annually to continue together with its ambitious military modernization programs, China would be poised to become a formidable power by the middle of the twenty-ﬁrst century. If the European theater represented the central battleground of ideologies and armies during the Cold War, the vast Asian continent will be the scene of an intense struggle for inﬂuence over its future as the twenty-ﬁrst century unfolds. Asia’s other giant, India, will most certainly join this struggle. Trailing China’s
program of economic liberalization by over a decade, India’s economic proﬁle improved noticeably by the end of the twentieth century. In his analysis of India’s reforms, James Manor cites a Goldman Sachs projection that India, by mid-century, will not only be a major contender in world aﬀairs but will also be the world’s third largest economy, behind the United States and China (2005: 97). Since joining the ranks of nuclear weapons states in 1998, India has doggedly pursued an overall enhancement of its military might and has emerged as the principal regional power in South Asia. The course of the relationship between India and China will have signiﬁcant implications for the nature of the evolving security order(s) in Asia. With a large footprint in Central Asia and a geographic presence in the
northeast of that continent, Russia, by virtue of its size, resources, and considerable military power, cannot be overlooked as an important player in that part of the world. Since 1993, Russia has invested heavily in simultaneously engaging India and China and in promoting a stronger tripartite relationship among them. Moreover, Russia’s interest in reprising its inﬂuence in Eurasia extends the unsettled security frontiers of Asia into the eastern fringes of Europe. Flush with revenues from the sale of oil and gas and a devaluation of the ruble following the ﬁnancial collapse of 1998, Russia’s economic prospects have improved and the country is once more asserting its power as a major claimant for inﬂuence in Eurasia and Asia (Perkovicˇ 2006). The march of developments in Asia and Eurasia is of immediate, even urgent,
extra-regional state with the reach and the capabilities for inﬂuencing the direction of outcomes in both the Asian and Eurasian theaters. But unipolarity notwithstanding, American preferences alone will under-determine regional outcomes. The roles played by secondary powers like China, India, and Russia will also be consequential for the nature of emerging security orders in Asia and Eurasia. This chapter addresses four questions: (1) In a unipolar world, how can the
nature of US power and inﬂuence in Asia and Eurasia best be characterized? (2) What insights may we draw from major international relations theories on the durability and impact of America’s preeminent power? (3) How can we isolate the impact of systemic imperatives from regional and domestic variables in explaining regional security dynamics? (4) Why is a focus on China, India, and Russia warranted in a study of Asian and Eurasian security futures? The argument proceeds as follows: China, India, and Russia are large nuclear
weapons states, which are seeking to actualize explicitly stated aspirations for great power status under the long shadow of US preeminence. All three countries lie outside US-sponsored security systems: China and India are not part of the US network of bilateral security alliances in Asia; and Russia is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As the preeminent global power, the US quest for continued inﬂuence in Asia and Eurasia collides with mutually competing Chinese, Indian, and Russian ambitions for status and inﬂuence, vastly complicating the security landscapes in these regions. The theories of realism, neoliberalism, and constructivism, drawing on divergent notions of “order,” if deployed only at the global level, oﬀer partial insights into this unfolding security dynamic. A more complete explanation requires the inclusion of domestic and regional variables.