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Squaring the Circle on Spheres of Influence: The Overlooked Benefits

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Whether spheres of influence stabilize or disrupt international security and how the United States should respond to efforts by other actors to establish spheres is at the forefront of contemporary grand strategy debates. For many in Washington, the answer is clear: spheres of influence are dangerous and destabilizing relics of centuries past which have no place in the modern world. In this rendering, spheres contradict American values, threaten to upend the liberal international order, promote great power competition, and ultimately destabilize international politics writ large. And at a time when many in Washington claim that Moscow and Beijing are crafting their own spheres in Eastern Europe and Asia, the policy implications of this position are clear: if a choice must be made between opposing or acknowledging these efforts, the United States must actively resist their creation.

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