The Stability of a Unipolar World - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Journal Article, International Security, volume 24, issue 1, pages 5-41

Summer 1999

Author:William Wohlforth, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Quarterly Journal: International Security


A decade has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of U.S.-Soviet bipolarity. In the ensuing years, many commentators and scholars have questioned whether the United States can remain the world's sole superpower. Some have defined U.S. preponderance as "a unipolar moment"; others have suggested that the current structure is "uni-multipolar." Regardless of the characterization, the conventional wisdom maintains that unipolarity is unstable and conflict prone, and thus unlikely to prevail over the long term. In our lead article, William Wohlforth of Georgetown University challenges this logic, arguing that unipolarity is both durable and peaceful. The principal threat to the current structure, according to Wohlforth, is the failure of the United States to stay involved in the international arena.


For more information about this publication please contact the IS Editorial Assistant at 617-495-1914.

For Academic Citation:

William C. Wohlforth. "The Stability of a Unipolar World." International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5-41.