External challenges to the liberal world order from Russia and China and continuing weakness and fracturing from within are likely to feed on each other, says a leading analyst. The weakness of the liberal core and the abdication by the United States of its global responsibilities will encourage more aggressive revisionism by the dissatisfied powers, which may in turn exacerbate the sense of weakness and helplessness and the loss of confidence of the liberal world, which will in turn increase the sense on the part of the great power autocracies that this is their opportunity to reorder the world to conform to their interests, Brookings analyst Robert Kagan contends.
China and Russia pose the greatest challenge to the relatively peaceful and prosperous international order created and sustained by the United States, he writes in a brief for Brookings Big Ideas for America:
If they were to accomplish their aims of establishing hegemony in their desired spheres of influence, the world would return to the condition it was in at the end of the 19th century, with competing great powers clashing over inevitably intersecting and overlapping spheres of interest. These were the unsettled, disordered conditions that produced the fertile ground for the two destructive world wars of the first half of the 20th century.