The human being, who is the essential object of the earth, has faced many events, wars, crises, epidemics, discoveries, inventions, and migrations from the birth of the mankind to today. Hence, the world has entered into new stages with the new actors of world politics to date. When a society faces a war or other challenging developments, a state collapse, and another new state emerges. Therefore, we can say that as if there is a cycle for the birth and decline of states. Moreover, a few scholars, such as Ibn Khaldun and George Modelski, analyzed the cycle as the theoretical basis to draw a cycle framework. In this essay, I will examine the theory of Modelski on the Long Cycle Theory in order to understand the cycle of world leadership. However, I would like to mention Ibn Khaldun’s Dynastic Cycle shortly before examining Modelski’s theory for not being western-centric just. 

I think that Ibn Khaldun’s theory, which is titled as Dynastic Cycle (Asabiyyah), is very significant because it enlightens us on how states emerge and why they decline through the cycle theory that was mentioned in the famous book Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun. According to Ibn Khaldun, when a state emerges, the state begins to rise through wars (Khaldun, 2013). What is the role of wars for rising? The wars lead to gaining more power and prosperity, so the state finds the chance to rise and constitute its hegemony until the decline of the state (Khaldun, 2013). How does the decline of the state begin? According to Ibn Khaldun, states begin to collapse after they had reached their power’s peak. If luxury dependency, oppressive administration, and challenges to the current administration are observed in a state that demonstrates that the state is in the decline process (Khaldun, 2013). Hence, every state is in a cycle, and they live the decline like every state.

In history, many states lived the cycle. For example, in the 13th century, the largest contiguous empire, which is Mongol Khanate, existed in the world (Rigmar, 2019). The Mongols controlled an area from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean at the peak of their power (Rigmar, 2019). How did Mongols succeed in this rising? Genghis Khan, an orphan, poor, and a former slave united many clans, and they occupied many lands over time through wars. Hence, they reached more power and property via wars, so they reached their power’s peak, and they constituted their own hegemony from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean. However, Genghis Khan’s descendants could not sustain the rise of this enormous Khanate because they began to fight with each other, so infighting took place in the contiguous empire (Rigmar, 2019). What can be the reasons for this infighting among Genghis Khan’s descendants? The descendants were not born in the situation like Genghis Khan because they were born in luxury, so they were interdependent on luxury. That’s why they were challenging the current administration, and they conduct oppressive administration in order to constitute their control and hegemony on the subjects of the Khanate and empire. As Ibn Khaldun argued, these conducts lead to the decline of a state. Hence, the Mongol Khanate faced the decline, and it became history.

As for Modelski’s theory, I think Modelski’s theory takes Ibn Khaldun’s theory a step further. It is because Modelski concentrated on world leadership, unlike Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun concentrated on how states rise and how states decline. Therefore, Ibn Khaldun’s theory explains the situation of every state, unlike Modelski because Modelski’s theory is related to world leadership. According to Modelski, the states start to influence events worldwide after the global wars through their economic and military power. Hence, they establish their world order and their entities to innovate the world according to their interests (FLINT, 2006). Therefore, they are called a world leader, according to Modelski. Moreover, this model continues as a dynamic structure in the world. Therefore, leadership always changes after 70-100 years later, so it is also called as Long Cycle Theory (FLINT, 2006). Also, this cycle contains the four stages: Global War, World Power, Delegitimization of World Leader status, and Deconcentration of dominance. During the phase of global war, the new world leader is decided through a global war (FLINT, 2006). For example, the US existed as a new global leader after the Second World War. At the phase of world power, the new world leader enacts its own geopolitical project through establishing new institutions for applying the new agendas. For instance, after the Second World War, the US established the UN, IMF, and NATO in order to enforce its own agenda to the rest of the world. The US enforced the states such as Turkey to pass the opened market economic system. This was one of the new agendas of the new world order.

Moreover, the position of the world leader is questioned in terms of benevolence overtime, so challenges against the world leader have begun, but the world leader is still strong during this phase (FLINT, 2006). This phase has named the phase of Delegitimization. For example, the position of the US was challenged by the Soviet Block, so this process can be regarded as the phase of Delegitimization. As for the last phase of the Long-Cycle World Leadership theory, challenges grow, and the world leader has to make an effort to react to the challenges through its material and ideological capacity (FLINT, 2006). If the world leader fails to react to these threats, a new global war takes place, and a new world leader emerges (FLINT, 2006). Thus, world leadership is a cycle.

In conclusion, there is a cycle for world leadership as George Modelski argued. In the contemporary world, the US is regarded as the last world leader, and until now, it has faced the first three stages of the Long-Cycle Theory. The USA can be seen at the stage that is between the phase of Delegitimization and the phase of Deconcentration. It is because the position of the US has been begun to question due to its failure in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. Also, China has already started to challenge the US. Hence, we will see what future awaits us in terms of the world leadership race during the coming decades.

Talha KAYA


FLINT, C. (2006). Setting the Global Geopolitical Context. C. Flint içinde, Introduction to Geopolitcs (s. 34-39). Routledge.

Khaldun, I. (2013). KIRKSEKİZİNCİ BÖLÜM. A. Tekin içinde, Mukaddime (s. 714-718). İlgi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık.

Rigmar, E. (2019). The Mongol Khantes. E. RIRGMAR içinde, History of International Relations: A Non-European Perspective (s. 101-121). OpenBook Publishers.

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