• Created by: sophie000
  • Created on: 07-12-17 09:24

Define Superpower

The term superpower refers to a nation with the means to project its power and influence anywhere in the world, and to be a dominant global force.

The United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and Russia have been recognized as global superpowers.

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Superpower status

1. Military

2. Political

3. Economic

4. Cultural

5. Resources

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Emerging and Regional Powers

Emerging superpowers: These have growing influence

   e.g. China. China has growing economic and military power, but less cultural influence than the USA.

Regional powers: These play an important economic and political role on their continent

e.g. South Africa and Japan

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Hard v Soft Power

Soft power is the power of persuasion. Some countries are able to make others follow their lead by making policies attractive and appealing.

E.G. Russian love film with Jame Bond fighting communists and Bolshoi Ballet in London

Advantages: less dependence on size, considered more effective

Disadvantages: takes a longer time to implement

Hard power is getting your own way by force.

E.G. German invasion into Poland in 1939 and economic sanctions such as those taken against Iran to try to prevent them from developing its military nuclear capability.

Advantages: benefits countries with higher income and less time to implement

Disadvantages: smaller countries can't compete, outcome is only short term

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Smart Power

Smart power is a combination of both hard and soft power to get thier own way

An example for employed smart power is the US-American effort to strengthen its influence in Africaby:

  • The African Growth and Opportunity Act is a program of bilateral trade agreements bound to certain political, economic and social reforms.
  • The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is “the largest commitment ever by a single nation towards an international health initiative” (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, 2009).
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General distribution of power

Uni-Polar = Dominated by one superpower

Bi-Polar = Two opposing superpowers

Multi-polar = Three or more superpowers

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How superpower influence has changed over time

The term superpower was used at the end of WW2 to describe the gloabl influence of the British Empire, the USA and USSR

However, after WW2, the British Empire disappeared and became the Commonwealth

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991

Today, is it felt that the USA is the world's only major superpower

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Why did Britain build an Empire?

  • To gain more land
  • To spread Christian Faith
  • To protect trade
  • To provide a market for finished goods
  • To connect more people
  • To stop war
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The post-colonial era

  • After WW2 the British Empire declined quickly
  • Post-war bankruptcy meant there was no money to run, or defend colonies
  • Colonial countries demanded independence and political movements
  • There was a need to focus on post war rebuilding and renewal in the UK
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Proxy Wars

Proxy War = A war started by a power that does not become invloved itself

The USA and USSR never entered conflict but influenced or supported allies in other wars.

  • Korean War - US backed South Korea and Chinese/Russian backed North Korea
  • Vietnam War - USA fought directly but USSR armed China
  • Cuban Missile Crisis - the closest the two came to conflict
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Groups of countries

BRICS = Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

MINT = Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey (and Bangladesh, Eqypt, Iran, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam

African Lions = Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda

Maghreb countries = Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Lybia (to promote cooperation and economic integration in a common market

Civets = Columbia, Egypt, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa (have sophisticted financial systems)

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Free market capitalism and Centrally-planned econo

Free market capitalism

  • Private ownership of property
  • Private ownership of businesses (wages based on supply v demand and skill level)
  • The right to make a profit and accumulate wealth
  • The buying and selling of goods and services in a competitive free makret, with limited restrictions
  • USA, Canada, Japan, Western Eurpore

Centrally-planned economy

  • Government ownership of property and land
  • Most business states owned and wages determined centrally
  • Profits taken by the government and used to prove public services
  • Prices controlled by the government, which also controls the supply pf goods and services
  • USSR, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba
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IGOs and decision making

The aim was to set up institutions that would prevent future wars as well as stabalise and boost the global economy. Through these IGOs, the USA and EU are able to have considerable power over the global economy.

Some IGOs involve all nations, such as the UN - others are more exclusive such as the G8 or regional such as NATO

Membership and voting rights may give key players disproportionate power

Some influential organisations such as the World Economic Forum are not-for-profit organisations outside government control

IGOs do change over time; the G20 has become more influential in recent years

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Mechanisms of Neo-colonial control

Terms of trade - low commodity export proces contrast with high prices foor imported goods from developed countreis

Aid - Bilateral aid deals that benefited supplier companies in developed countries

TNC Investment - Exploiting workers in low-skill factories by paying low wages

International Organisations - Intervening in the economies of developing world using structural adjustment policies to ensure debt repayment

Debt - Developing countries borrow money from developed ones, and then end up in aa debtor-creditor relationship

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Tensions over resources:

  • Due to the increasingly accessible mineral wealth between the Arctic.
  • E.g. Canada has carried out military exercises in the Arctic

Economic Tensions:

  • Faking brands is illegal and a crime against intellectual property rights
  • The agreement is known as Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • E.g. China counterfeiting products

Tensions over territory:

  • After the USSR collapsed, many Eastern Eurpoean countries wanted independence
  • Some countries boardering Russia are still influenced by Russia
  • Russia wants to re-establish its influence using 'hard power'
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Economic problems of superpowers


  • Debt was £1.6 trillion in the UK
  • Ageing fast
  • Workforce will drop by 14%
  • Energy security is a major issue


  • National debt reached $19 trillion
  • Many large global TNCs
  • Race relations are strained
  • Ageing is not as rapid
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Alternative superpower futures in 2030

1. US hegemony (uni-polar)

US dominance and economic and military alliances continue in a uni-polar world. China faces an economic crisis and ceases to grow rapidly

2. Regional Mosaic (multi-polar)

Emerging powers continue to grow while the EU and USA decline is relative terms, creating a multi-polar world of equal powers with regional but not global influence

3. New Cold War (bi-polar)

China rises to become equal in power to the USA, and many nations align themselves, creating a bipolar world similar to the Cold War period

4, Asain Century (uni-polar)

Economic, social and political problems reduce the power of the EU and USA

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