1st Edition

Military Strategy in an Era of Unipolar Demise Exploring Strategic Diversity among Nations

By Håkan Edström, Jacob Westberg Copyright 2025
    304 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a systematic comparison of the military strategies pursued by (5) great powers, (8) major-middle powers and (8) middle powers during the early 21st century.

    In addition to mapping the strategic priorities of these states, the study develops and applies a theoretical framework to explain differences and similarities in their strategic priorities. Moreover, the work evaluates how the stability of the present international system, and the US-led liberal international order, are affected by the strategies pursued by the United States and other leading states. The book aims to contribute to previous research in three ways. First, it intervenes in the debate on the stability of the unipolar system and the US-led international order by offering a theoretical framework and an empirical approach for exploring and explaining the strategic priorities and defence strategies of different categories of states. Second, it aims to fill a void in research on strategy – the lack of a comparative and systematic approach to contemporary strategy that facilitates and guides systematic comparisons and analyses of the alignment and military strategies pursued by both major powers and less powerful states. Third, it provides an empirical contribution to the debate on the stability of the unipolar system and the US-led international order by presenting a documentation of the strategic priorities of 21 states based on primary sources, consisting of official documents such as national security and defence strategies and defence bills. In the conclusion, the authors summarise the empirical findings on the system level, the regional level, and the unit-level, and present their overarching conclusions for the whole project.

    This book will be of much interest to students of military and strategic studies, defence studies, foreign policy and International Relations in general.



    List of Figures and Tables




    List of Abbreviations


    Chapter 1: Introducing the Scope of the Book


    Part I: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations


    Chapter 2: Exploring Strategic Diversity


    Chapter 3: Defining and Selecting Great Powers and Middle Powers


    Chapter 4: Regional Dynamics and Unit-Level Characteristics


    Chapter 5: The Constitutive Elements of Defence Strategy


    Part II: Empirical Exploration


    Chapter 6: The International Order and the International System


    Chapter 7: The Ends


    Chapter 8: The Alignment Strategies


    Chapter 9: The Means


    Chapter 10: The Ways


    Part III: Conclusions


    Chapter 11: Conclusions: Exploring Strategic Diversity in an Era of Unipolar Demise


    Appendix 1: Military Expenditures in Constant (2022) USD billion




    Håkan Edström is professor in Military Strategy at the Norwegian Air Force Academy in Trondheim, as well as associate professor in Security Politics at the Swedish Defence University, Stockholm.


    Jacob Westberg is associate professor in War Studies and senior lecturer in Security Policy and Strategy at the Swedish Defence University, Stockholm.