Thus, Modelski’s War Cycle assigns the following hegemony to the world order: One nation state is hegemon – a few nation states compete for hegemony – war – settlement – one nation state is hegemon – a few states compete for hegemony – war – settlement, etc. and so on.
So, whereas Polybius’ sequence of Anacyclosis is one-few-many-one, Modelski’s War Cycle proceeds one-few-war-settlement-one-few-war-settlement.
According to Modelski, this sequence has run its full course not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times since 1494. Each sequence averaged around 100 years.
The dominant powers of each War Cycle were, in order: Portugal (winner of the Italian wars) Netherlands (winner of the Spanish wars) Great Britain (winner of the French wars), and Great Britain again (winner of yet more French wars). The commencement of the fifth sequence has established the United States as the dominant power, after winning the German wars. Interestingly, and perhaps appropriately, Modelski treats what we call World War I and World War II as two phases of the same long German outburst.
Modelski’s paper provides a useful chart, outlining the dominant hegemon, the applicable war and settlement, contemporary institutional innovations, and the landmarks of descent which foreshadowed the coming conflicts. The chart is reproduced below (credit, Cambridge University Press, 1978).