Description: Description: Description: École supérieure d'affaires publiques et internationales


Master’s Seminar


The return of geopolitical rivalry


API 6339

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

Winter 2021


Prof. Roland Paris

Office: FSS 6053

Office hours: By appointment


Course Description

This course will examine the causes, characteristics and possible consequences of the recent intensification of major-power rivalry in international politics, including in the military, economic and cyber domains.


Response papers (3 x 15%)


Midterm exam


Final exam




Response papers

You will write three response papers during the semester. Deadline: 12 noon the day before the relevant class meeting. Late papers will be subject to penalties (see lateness policy below). Detailed instructions will be provided in class.

Midterm exam

The midterm exam will cover all the course material up to the date of the exam. It will take place during the regular class period. Duration: 1.5 hours.

Final exam

The final exam will cover the entire course. It will be a take home exam, during the exam period. Duration: 24 hours. You must write the final exam to pass the course.


The participation grade will be based not only on your involvement in seminar discussions, but also on evidence that you have completed and understood the weekly readings. If circumstances make it difficult for you to participate in online discussions, please speak to the professor.


Click on the links in the course schedule, below. To access subscriber-only material, you may either: (1) connect to the library website from a University of Ottawa-networked computer, or (2) follow these instructions for off-campus access:

Cheating and Plagiarism

Academic fraud – including plagiarism, submitting work that was produced by someone else, or submitting the same work in more than one course – may result in a failing grade for a particular assignment, a failing grade for the course, and/or suspension for various lengths of time or permanent expulsion from the university. The onus is on each student to know and comply with the university’s regulations on academic fraud.

Lateness Policy

There will be a penalty for late submissions. Exceptions are made only for illness or other serious situations deemed as such by the professor. University regulations require all absences from exams and all late submissions due to illness to be supported by a medical certificate. The Faculty reserves the right to accept or reject the reason put forth if it is not medical. Reasons such as travel, work and errors made while reading the exam schedule are not usually accepted. Each day of late submission will result in a penalty of 5%, weekends included. This also applies to assignments sent by email (time of receipt of the email indicates the time of delivery). Papers will not be accepted after the class in which they are discussed. Please notify the professor as soon as possible if a religious holiday or event forces your absence during an evaluation.

Mental Health and Wellness

The University of Ottawa is committed to the wellbeing of its students and to ensuring that every student can experience good mental health in order to complete their work and participate fully in university life. For more information, visit,

Sexual Violence

The University of Ottawa does not tolerate any form of sexual violence. Sexual violence refers to any act of a sexual nature committed without consent, such as rape, sexual harassment or online harassment. The University, as well as student and employee associations, offers a full range of resources and services allowing members of our community to receive information and confidential assistance and providing for a procedure to report an incident or make a complaint. For more information, visit




Course Schedule


Jan. 13          Introduction to the Course


Walter Russell Mead, “The Return of Geopolitics,” Foreign Affairs 93:3 (May 2014), pp. 69-79.


G. John Ikenberry, “The Illusion of Geopolitics,” Foreign Affairs 93:3 (May 2014), pp. 80-90.

Jan. 20          Power and Change


Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1981), chapter 1, “The Nature of International Political Change.”


Alexander Cooley, Daniel Nexon and Steven Ward, “Revising Order or Challenging the Balance of Military Power? An Alternative Typology of Revisionist and Status-Quo States,” Review of International Studies 45: 4 (Oct. 2019), pp. 689-708.


Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, “Power in International Politics,” International Organization 59:1 (Winter 2005), pp. 39-75.

Jan. 27          Ideology and Identity


J. David Singer, “The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations,” World Politics 14:1 (Oct. 1961), pp. 77-92.


Mark L. Haas, “Ideological Polarity and Balancing in Great Power Politics,” Security Studies 23:4 (2014), pp. 715-753.


Bentley B. Allan, Srdjan Vucetic and Ted Hopf, “The Distribution of Identity and the Future of International Order: China's Hegemonic Prospects,” International Organization 72:4 (Fall 2018), pp. 839-869.



Feb. 3            The United States


Joseph S. Nye, “The Rise and Fall of American Hegemony from Wilson to Trump,” International Affairs 95:1 (Jan. 2019), pp. 63-80.


Rubrick Biegon, “A Populist Grand Strategy? Trump and the Framing of American Decline,” International Relations 33:4 (Dec. 2019), pp. 517–539.


Patrick Porter, “Why America's Grand Strategy Has Not Changed: Power, Habit, and the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment,” International Security 42:4 (Spring 2018), pp 9-46.


Joseph R. Biden, Jr., “Why America Must Lead Again,” Foreign Affairs 99:2 (March-April 2020), pp. 64-68, 70-76.

Feb. 10          China


Avery Goldstein, “China's Grand Strategy under Xi Jinping: Reassurance, Reform, and Resistance,” International Security 45:1 (2020), pp. 164-201.


Oriana Skylar Mastro, “The Stealth Superpower: How China Hid Its Global Ambitions,” Foreign Affairs 98:1 (Jan. 2019), pp. 31-39.


Maximilian Mayer, “China’s Historical Statecraft and the Return of History,” International Affairs 94:6 (Nov. 2018), pp. 1217-1235.


Minghao Zhao, “Is a New Cold War Inevitable? Chinese Perspectives on US–China Strategic Competition,” Chinese Journal of International Politics 12:3 (Autumn 2019), pp. 371-394.

Feb. 17          No Meeting (University Break)

Feb. 24          Midterm Exam


March 3        Russia


Andrew Radin and Clint Reach, Russian Views of the International Order (RAND, 2017).


Michael McFaul, “Putin, Putinism, and the Domestic Determinants of Russian Foreign Policy,” International Security 45:2 (2020), pp. 95-139.


Rod Thornton, “The Russian Military’s New ‘Main Emphasis,’” RUSI Journal 162:4 (2017), pp. 18-28.


Thomas Graham, “Let Russia Be Russia: The Case for a More Pragmatic Approach to Moscow,” Foreign Affairs 98:6 (Nov. 2019), pp. 134-146.

March 10      Europe


Erik Jones and Anand Menon, “Europe: Between Dream and Reality?” International Affairs 95:1 (Jan. 2019), pp. 161-180.


Alina Polyakova and Benjamin Haddad, “Europe Alone: What Comes After the Transatlantic Alliance,” Foreign Affairs 98:4 (July 2019), pp. 109-120.


Mark Leonard and Jeremy Shapiro, “Sovereign Europe, Dangerous World: Five Agendas to Protect Europe’s Capacity to Act,” European Council on Foreign Relations, Policy Brief (Dec. 1, 2020).


Josep Borrell, “Embracing Europe’s Power,” Project Syndicate (Feb. 8, 2020).


Christopher S. Browning, “Geostrategies, Geopolitics and Ontological Security in the Eastern Neighbourhood: The European Union and the ‘New Cold War,’” Political Geography 62 (January 2018), pp. 106-115.


March 17      Geo-Economics


Robert D. Blackwell and Jennifer M. Harris, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft (Harvard University Press, 2016), chapters 1 and 3.

Chapter 1:

Chapter 3:


Branko Milanovic, “The Clash of Capitalisms: The Real Fight for the Global Economy’s Future,” Foreign Affairs 99:1 (January 2020), pp. 10-21.


Daniel W. Drezner, “Counter-Hegemonic Strategies in the Global Economy,” Security Studies 28:3 (2019), pp. 505-531.


Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman, “Chained to Globalization: Why It’s Too Late to Decouple,” Foreign Affairs 99:1 (Jan. 2020), pp. 70-80.

March 24      Emerging Technologies


Andrew B. Kennedy and Darren J. Lim, “The Innovation Imperative: Technology and US-China Rivalry in the Twenty-First Century,” International Affairs 94:3 (May 2018), pp. 553–572.


Torsten Riecke, “Resilience and decoupling in the era of great power competition,” Mercator Institute for China Studies, China Monitor (Aug. 20, 2020).


Adam Segal, “The Coming Tech Cold War With China,” Foreign Affairs (Sept. 9, 2020).


United States, “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies” (October 2020).


Steven Erlanger and Adam Satariano, “Europe Feels Squeeze as Tech Competition Heats Up Between U.S. and China,” New York Times (Sept. 11, 2020).

March 31      Security


Warren Chin, “Technology, War and the State: Past, Present and Future,” International Affairs 95:4 (July 2019), pp. 765-783.


Christian Brose, “The New Revolution in Military Affairs,” Foreign Affairs 98:3 (May-June 2019), pp. 122-134.


Alexey Arbatov, “Saving Strategic Arms Control,” Survival 62:5 (2020), pp. 79-104.



Thomas Paterson and Lauren Hanley, “Political Warfare in the Digital Age: Cyber Subversion, Information Operations and ‘Deep fakes,’” Australian Journal of International Affairs 74:4 (2020), pp. 439-454.


Government of Canada, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, “National Cyber Threat Assessment 2020”

April 7           Energy, Resources and Climate


Sophia Kalantzakos, “The Race for Critical Minerals in an Era of Geopolitical Realignments,” International Spectator 55:3 (2020), pp. 1-16.


Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, “A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation” (2019).


Andreas Goldthau et al., “Model and Manage the Changing Geopolitics of Energy,” Nature 569 (2019), pp. 29-31. (pdf)


Jason Bordoff, “Everything You Think About the Geopolitics of Climate Change Is Wrong,” Foreign Policy (Oct. 5, 2020).


Friedbert Pflüger, “A New Security Challenge: The Geopolitical Implications of Climate Change,” Atlantic Council (Feb. 10, 2020).

April 14         What Next?


Roland Paris, “The Right to Dominate: How Old Ideas about Sovereignty Pose New Challenges for World Order,” International Organization 74:3 (Summer 2020), pp. 453-489.


Trine Flockhart, “The Coming Multi-Order World,” Contemporary Security Policy 37:1 (2016), pp. 3-30.


Daniel W. Drezner, “The Song Remains the Same: International Relations After COVID-19,” International Organization, online supplemental issue (2020), pp. 1-18.


Thomas Wright, “The Fraught Politics Facing Biden’s Foreign Policy,” Brookings Institution (Nov. 22, 2020).




Roland Paris, “Can Middle Powers Save the Liberal World Order?”, Chatham House-The Royal Institute of International Affairs (June 2019).


Roland Paris, “Canadian Views on China: From Ambivalence to Distrust?”, Chatham House-The Royal Institute of International Affairs (July 2020).