The World as We Know It: A Conversation with Dr. Gary Schmitt

This interview was conducted by Theodor Su.

Fletcher Security Review (FSR): Thank you very much for speaking with us today, Dr. Schmitt. As we know, the liberal world order and the national security of the United States and its allies are increasingly under threat from so-called “revisionist states.” Can you start by explaining what this means?

Gary Schmitt (GS): Sure. One of the issues that’s arisen, particularly since 2014, is the rise of China and the sort of rise in great power competition moving from the unipolar moment. I don’t think that captures exactly what’s going on. It’s certainly true that China’s power has increased and Russian power, arguably, increased. What matters as much as the power difference, however, is the character of the rising power and that power’s strategic ambitions.

So “revision” essentially captures the fact that these states aren’t liberal and have an interest in modifying or undermining the more liberal global order via security measures, economic measures, etc. But there’s always a tension with the character of the regime, in this case, China, but also with an authoritarian Russia. Authoritarian Iran is also there. Iran has expanded its sights on trying to integrate and use Shia populations throughout the Persian Gulf region to set itself up as the regional hegemon. So, overturning not so much a liberal order, because it’s really not on the border. You know, Iraq is a functioning democracy, even though it has its problems, but in this particular case, it’s really about Iran’s attempt to create a Shia order as opposed to a Persian Gulf order, in which the United States tries to provide stability for both Sunni and Shia…

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This piece is republished from the Fletcher Security Review.

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