In This Review

Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower
Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower
By Michael Beckley
248 pp, Cornell University Press, 2018

It has become conventional wisdom that the United States is in decline, the uni-polar era is ending, and China is on the rise. In this smart and sophisticated book, Beckley tackles this thesis head-on. He does not dispute that the United States has its problems or that misguided leaders often squander its advantages. But he points out that the United States’ deep geographic, demographic, and institutional reserves give the country unique resilience. The United States is the only great power without regional rivals. Its companies and universities dominate the world. And most important, Beckley argues that it has by far the best fundamentals for future economic growth, thanks to its abundant natural resources, favorable demographics, secure property rights, and lasting political institutions. China’s growth prospects, in contrast, are “dismal.” Beckley also thinks the declinists use the wrong measures of power. GDP, for example, exaggerates the influence of populous but poor countries, such as China, while overlooking problems that drain those countries’ economic and military resources. He does not argue that the United States can—or should—try to preserve the unipolar era, but he does think that it will long remain the world’s leading power.