Superpowers

  • Created by: remybray
  • Created on: 21-03-18 09:17

Enquiry question 1

ENQUIRY QUESTION 1: WHAT ARE SUPERPOWERS AND HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED OVER TIME?

  • Superpower - a country that can project its power and ideas globally, and influence other countries using its economic, political, military and cultural strengths. A superpower is a nation, or group of nations, with a leading position in international politics.
  • Emerging powers - are countries whose power is increasing; they usually have some strengths but also weaknesses in some areas in comparison with a superpower.
  • Geopolitical - refers to the influence of geographical factors (economy, population size, military strength) on the actions of countries towards others: their foreign policy, agreements and alliances and conflicts.
  • The term superpower dates from the late 1940s when it was used to describe the 3 dominant world powers at the time: The USA, the USSR and the British Empire.
  • Superpower status has a number of different sources: Economic, Political, Military, Cultural, Demographic and Natural Resources
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Economic

  • This is a prerequisite of power. A large and powerful economy gives nations the wealth to build and maintain a powerful military, exploit natural resources and develop human ones through education.
  • High GDP and high levels of trade, including influence over global trade.
  • Home to many TNCs.
  • Hard currency held in reserve by other countries.

Political

  • The ability to influence others through diplomacy to get your way is important and is exercised thorough international organisations such as the UN and World Trade Organisation.
  • Permanent seat on the UN Security Council, together with powerful allies.
  • Many multilateral agreements.
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Military

  • This is used in two ways; firstly, the threat of military action is a powerful bargaining tool; secondly, military force can be used to achieve geopolitical goals. Some forms of military power, such as blue water navy, drone, missile and satellite technology, can be deployed globally and reach distant places.
  • High expenditure, largest amount of hardware and personnel, including nuclear weapons.
  • Could command global military control.
  • Unparalleled intelligence network.
  • Exporter of technology.
  • China’s army is much larger than that of the USA (2333000 and 1492200 respectively) but military size is now often less significant than national defence budgets and technology.
  • US military technology is ahead of both China’s and Russia’s, with greater global reach.
  • 12 % of the USA’s annual military budget is spent on research, development and testing – that is double the amount spent on research by China and nearly as much as Russia’s entire military budget. China is more focussed on security of the South China Sea.
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Cultural

  • This includes how appealing a nation’s way of life, values and ideology are to others, and is often exercised through film, the arts and food.
  • Long standing tradition and rich cultural history or way of life voluntarily enjoyed by many around the world, for example music and fashion.
  • Our work on the globalisation topic taught us about the strong influence that corporations such as the News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch have on political matters and the spread of particular cultures.

Demographic

  • Significant percentage of global workers.
  • Attracts skilled migrants and other workers.
  • A large population is not critical to power as shown by the example of Singapore whose total population is about half that of London – yet it has a major influence on Southeast Asia’s economy through attracting investment, and it has become a key player in the economy of the whole Asia region.
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Natural resources

  • Can be in the form of physical resources (fossil fuels, mineral, land) but also human resources.
  • Able to export and control the supply of valuable commodities, for example oil, or be able to secure the resources it needs.
  • On the other hand, multiple resources make a country less dependent on others (e.g. energy security)
  • Occupying a world location that enable it to influence commerce.
  • Possession of natural resources does not guarantee development since many countries’ natural resources are actually managed by major TNCs such as Shell and BP.
  • Today, the USA is the only true superpower. Some view the USA as not 'just' a superpower but as a hyperpower because it is so much more powerful than other countries.
  • The EU is a union of 28 countries and 510 million people and is a nuclear weapons power (UK, FRance) and the world's second largest economy after the USA. The fact that its 28 member states often disagree is a weakness in terms of global power. The EU could be further weakened when the UK leaves in 2019-2020 following the 2016 referendum vote.
  • China's case is weakened by its lack of cultural and political influence
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The USA:

  • The USA’s per capita GDP was US$53,000 compared to China’s US$6,000 (note that there are different ways to measure GDP, some of which suggest the gap is much smaller)
  • 80% of all financial transactions and 87% of foreign currency market transactions are in US dollars.
  • The USA’s military spending is four to five times that of China, accounting for 37% of global military spending.
  • The USA is the most favoured destination for migration – 45 million people living in the USA were born in a foreign country, four times that of the next-highest country.
  • The USA hands out the most money in the world in financial assistance (US$33 billion), with the UK being the second (US$19 billion)
  • 16 of the top 20 universities in the world are in the USA.
  • The USA, EU and China are at or near the top in rankings for sources of power. Other countries, such as India and Russia, do well only in some rankings.
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  • Hard power - using military and economic influence (trade deals, sanctions) to force another country in a particular way
  • Sanctions are penalties applied by one country to another, such as refusal to trade with them, refusing foreign travel or banning them from taking part in international sport
  • Soft power - more subtle persuasion of countries to act in particular ways, on the basis that the persuader is respected and appealing. Includes political persuasion (diplomacy) and cultural influence
  • The political scientist Joseph Nye coined the term smart power in 1990. He argues that in the twenty-first century the most successful countries are those that combine hard and soft power into smart power. 
  • Smart power - a combination of threat and persuasion: a 'carrot and stick' approach to a country getting its own way
  • Hard power (threats of force or direct military action) can get results but is expensive and risky
  • Others may view military action as unnecessary or illegal, so the aggressor may lose allies and moral authority (e.g. Russia's 2014 invasion of the Crimea)
  • Soft power relies on a country having respected culture, values and politics, which may be enough to persuade some countries but not others
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  • Soft power, applied well, is low cost and, because it is about creating alliances and friendly relations, may spread to other countries
  • International rankings of soft power usually place the USA, UK, France and Germany top of the annual rankings, i.e. Western, liberal democracies
  • The relative importance of different forms of power has changed over time. In the past, military force and hard power were the common mechanisms for achieving and maintaining power.
  • In the 19th and early 20th centuries the idea that power came from controlling vast land areas was important. In 1904 British geographer Halford Mackinder produced an influential geo-strategic (refers to the policies of a country in terms of securingthe resources it needs, both within its territory, nearby and globally) location theory, called Heartland theory. 
  • MacKinder believed that the world was divided into three components:
  • 1. The World Island, comprising Europe, Asia and Africa – the largest and most wealthy combination of continents
  • 2. Offshore islands, including the British Isles and Japan.
  • 3. Outlying Islands, including North and South America and Australasia
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  • At the centre of the World Island was the Heartland - which MacKinder described as the Pivot area or a key geo-strategic location because it contained 50% of the world’s resources and whoever controlled it would control this huge proportion of the world’s physical and human resources. Controlling this area secured control of the World Island and, in turn the rest of the world.
  • When MacKinder was writing, the Heartland was controlled by Russia, but could be invaded by Germany or Japan and an alliance of other countries. 
  • The further away from the heartland a country was, the less influence it would have.
  • Heartland theory was influential:
  • It persuaded the USA, UK and other European countries that Russia needed to be 'contained', i.e. prevented from spreading outward by taking over new areas close by
  • It reinforced the idea that control of physical resources (land, mineral wealth) was important
  • In the 21st century these ideas seemed old-fashioned:
  • Modern military technology (inter-continental ballistic missiles, drones, aircraft carriers, strike aircraft) can hit deep inside another country's territory - size is no protection
  • Physical resources are traded internationally,there is much less need to have them domestically
  • War and conflict are generally seen as abnormal, whereas in the past they were accepted ways of gaining power
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  • Soft power has become more common as a way of gaining influence and maintaining power, by creating economic and political alliances. However, hard power still exists:
  • In 1991 and 2003 the USA and its allies invaded Iraq, partly to secure oil supplies
  • Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine/Crimea in 2014

Ways in which the UK uses soft power:

  • History - families from all over the world send their children to be educated in the UK. Cultural relationships established through the British empire live on through the Commonwealth. The British common-law legal approach (case law) and other aspects of our legal system are widely modelled around the world. Powerful growth of international finance in the city of London
  • Culture - the BBC is a major international broadcaster. English is the most widely spoken language after Mandarin. BBC news gives this corporation a huge reach, and is part of the UK's continuing influence in the world through soft power. The 2012 olympics reasserted Britain's capability to host major international events. The UK exports knowledge management in the form of international consultancy firms such as PriceWaterhouse Coopers.
  • Diplomacy - the UK has one of the largest networks of embassies and high commissions. 
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British diplomats are widely respected and Britain has been hugely influential in imposing economic sanctions, e.g. on Russia after its involvement in Ukraine. Britain has always sought to support weaker countries against takeover by stronger ones.

Use of hard power by the USA: Military power

  • Confronting the Taliban and bringing about the death of Osama Bin Laden
  • Responding to Kuwait's request for military help in the 1991 Gulf War, following Kuwait's invasion by Iraq, and subsequently the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in 2003
  • The Afghanistan War was prompted by the 2001 terrorist attack on the world trade centre by Al-Qaeda

Economic power:

  • The USA remains the largest trading partner for many countries, exporting high value goods (military aircraft) and global brands (Apple)
  • The USA has dominance in innovation and intellectual property, such as patents
  • The World Bank, IMF and WTO are all vital economic tools for spreading Western influence
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Imperial power

  • Empire - a group of territories and their peoples ruled over by one country, usually taken by conquest. The conquered territories are usually called colonies
  • The period 1500 to 1950 was an imperial era. The development of empires relied on:
  • Powerful navies to transport soldiers and equipment to areas of potential conquest, and then protect sea-routes and coastlines from enemies
  • Large and advanced armed forces to conquer territory and then control it
  • Businesses, often government owned, to exploit resources in the conquered territories by mining (gold, tin) and plantation farming (rubber, tea, coffee)
  • A fleet of merchant ships, protected by a navy, to transport goods back to the home country
  • People from the home country to act as the government and civil service to run the colonies
  • Empires were maintained directly by force. Attempts by the conquered people to rebel against the colonial power were brutally suppressed.
  • Empires ended in the period 1950-1970. European countries gave independence to their colonies. This was because the cost of maintaining empires was too high as Europe rebuilt after WW2. Since 1950, CHina has effectively acted as a colonial ruler of Tibet, brutally suppressing dissent during rebellions by Tibetans in 1959 and 2008
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  • The high point of superpower polarity, it could be argued, was the British Empire. 
  • By 1920, it ruled over 20% of the world's population and controlled 25% of the world's land across all continents. The British monarch was the head of state.
  • The Royal Navy dominated the world's oceans during this period, protecting the colonies and trade routes between them and Britain. In 1914, Britain's navy was about twice as large as the next largest, that of Germany. 
  • The British (and other European) people believed that it was right to colonise and rule the world, both politically because land gave power, and economically, because colonies possessed raw materials and provided a market for European manufactured goods. 
  • Although many colonies were taken without force, colonial power was maintained by populating them with British farms, colonial administrators and military forces. The indigenous people were suppressed, their cultures ignored and their land was taken.

Colonial India is a good example of how colonies were controlled directly:

  • British military personnel, civil servants and entrepreneurs emigrated to India to run the Raj.
  • The Indian rebellion of 1857 led to the dissolution of the East India Company and then India was governed directly by the British government, concluding with Queen Victoria being 
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crowned Empress of India showing how occasional rebellions were put down by force and followed by more direct rule

  • Educated Indians (speaking English and wearing European dress) occupied many lower administrative positions
  • Symbols of imperial power, such as the residence of the governor general in Delhi and the Howrah bridge in Kolkata, demonstrated Britain's imperial wealth and technical prowess
  • A process of acculturation was undertaken as British traditions, such as cricket, afternoon tea and the English language, were introduced
  • A strict social order was maintained that differentiated the ruling white class from the Indians
  • By 1914 Britain's empire was becoming overstretched and facing competition from a rapidly industrialising Germany. 
  • The First World War saw the growth of the US and Japanese naval power, challenging Britain's control of the seas, forcing the country to make choices regarding its international priorities
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After the end of WWI (1918) the distribution of power became increasingly multi-polar:

  • Germany became more powerful during the 1930s as Hitler rearmed the country and prepared it for war
  • Imperial Japan began to be an increasing power in Asia
  • The USA became economically and militarily stronger, challenging Britain's traditional global leadership.
  • European powers were still strong, but weakened by poor economic performance and the costs of maintaining empires

The colonial era came to an end relatively quickly after the end of WW2 in 1945. Most colonial powers had lost their colonies by 1970. The reasons for this include:

  • Post-war bankruptcy meaning there was no money to run, or defend colonies
  • The focus on post-war reconstruction at home meant that colonies were viewed as less important
  • Anti-colonial movements, e.g. in India, grew increasingly strong and demands for independence could not be ignored
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  • Much of the era from 1945 to 1990 was dominated by the Cold War. Indirect power became importing during this era.
  • The USA became an increasingly global superpower with worldwide military bases aimed at containing the USSR and preventing the spread of communism. The USSR built up a contigous core of countries it either allied with (Eastern Europe) or invaded (Afghanistan)
  • Power during this time was maintained militarily, politcally, economically and culturally - referred to as maintaining control in multi-faceted ways

After WW2, two global superpowers emerged:

  • The beliefs and politics of the USSR did not agree with the USA. In order to become more powerful the USSR took advantage of collapsed countries in Eastern Europe and enforced a communist regime
  • The USA followed a policy to globalise its sphere of influence and become a stronger player in the world
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Human and physical resources

  • The USA had a population of 287 million in 1989.
  • The USSR had a population of 291 million in 1991.
  • The USA was self-sufficient in most raw materials; oil importer
  • The USSR was self-sufficient in most raw materials; oil exporter

Military influence

  • The USSR created a buffer of 'friendly' countries in Eastern and Central Europe to shield it from possible future attacks from the West. It installed communist governments in satellite states, including Poland, Hungary and East Germany. 
  • The border between Eastern and Western Europe became known as the 'Iron Curtain'
  • Those countries supporting the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact 
  • Those countries supporting the USA formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
  • The USA had the world's largest navy and most powerful air forces, with a 'ring' of bases surrounding the USSR. 
  • The USA had a large nuclear arsenal and global network of nuclear bases.
  • USA had extensive global intelligence gathering through the CIA.
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  • The USSR had a very large army, and large but often outdated naval and air force capability
  • The USSR had nuclear weapons and troops stationed in Eastern Europe
  • USSR had extensive global intelligence gathering through the KGB

Political influence

  • The USA was a democracy with free elections held every 4 years
  • the USSR was a single party state with no free elections (dictatorship)
  • The Eastern European countries were not directly ruled by Moscow, but its influence ranged from economic planning to military operations. Elections were held, but all of the candidates were Communist party members approved by Moscow.
  • Any deviation from Moscow's policies was dealt with harshly, even with military invasion, as was the case in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.
  • Proxy wars occur when the USA and/or Russia supported one side in a conflict but did not directly fight each other. Examples include: the 1950-3 Korean War, which lead to the division of Korea into US backed South Korea and Chinese/Russian backed North Korea; the 1955-75 Vietnam War, fought directly by the USA, but indirectly by communist China with some government of South Vietnam with the USA trying to stop the spread of communism; the Cuban
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Missile crisis of 1962, the closest the USSR and the USA got to direct conflict during the Cold War

  • However, behind any political clash there always lay the nuclear threat to both sides, which prevented open conflict from breaking out

Economic influence

  • The USA was a capitalist, free-market economy with global TNCs.
  • The USSR was socialist, centrally planned economy; most businesses were state owned
  • After 1945 the USA extended its economic influence through its Marshall Plan - a programme of financial aid to help Western European countries rebuild war damage, promote economic development (to create trading partners) and prevent the poverty that was believed to be the root cause of communist influence. Between 1948-1951 the US Marshall Plan provided aid to the UK totalling US$3,297 million. 
  • US influence also grew through inward investment into countries such as Japan, Singapore and the Philippines. In the 1970s the 'Asian Tiger' economies, such as Singapore, grew supported by American invesment. This influence is known as neo-colonialism and has greatly influenced global development
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  • The IMF and World Bank also provide aid and assistance, often to developing countries in the form of SAPs which tends to ensure that governments reformed their countries into pro-Western democracies. TNCs operate globally

Cultural influence

  • USA - film, radio, television and music industry proved a powerful vehicle for conveying a positive view of consumerism, family values, democracy and aflluence to a global audience
  • USSR - exported a 'high' cultural message focussed on ballet, classical music and art in contrast to the 'popular' culture of the USA. Strict censorship within the USSR
  • Western culture has continued to spread around the world through globalisation processes such as the internet
  • Western music, books and architecture can be found around the world
  • Hollywood also produced a number of movies designed to generate suspicion of communists and propagandizing the threat of Communism during the Cold War era, e.g the Red Menace
  • Today the USA has an ernormous global reach in terms of culture and media - CNN, Disney and Pixar, blockbuster movies, The Simpsons, McDonalds and KFC
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Some geographers have argued that Western nations continue to control their ex-colonies in the developing world through an indirect mechanism called neo-colonialism - which meant that newly independent countries were not actually masters of their own destiny. This includes:

  • Strategic alliances - military alliances between developing nations and superpowers make the developing nations dependent upon military aid and equipment from the superpower
  • Aid - development aid comes with 'strings attached' (tied aid), forcing the recipient to agree to policies and spending priorities suggested by the aid donor
  • TNC investment - investment from abroad may create jobs and wealth, but be dependent on the receiving country following 'friendly' policies
  • Terms of trade - developing countries export low value commodities (tea, copper, cocoa) but have to import expensive manufactured goods from developed countries
  • Debt - developing countries borrow money from developed ones and then end up in a debtor-creditor relationship
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Rise of China

  • In recent years, China's rapid economic growth - and the dependence of the US on China for manufactured goods - has challenged America's power and influence.
  • China is also seeking global influence through its investment in many African countries (neo-colonial actions). Today about 1 million Chinese are estimated to be living in Africa, many in areas with large amounts of raw materials.
  • In 2010 80% of Chinese imports were mineral products from Africa, and China is Africa's top business partner.
  • Chinese companies are creating jobs, upskilling locals and spending money in the economy which further stimulates growth
  • China's influence is also spreading to less resource rich countries like Ethiopia
  • The relationship between African and Chinese leaders is strong - e.g. China played a major peacemaker role in negotiations between North and South Sudan
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Geopolitical stability and risk

  • Uni-polar - one globally dominant superpower, or hyperpower, e.g. British Empire
  • Bi-polar - two superpowers, with opposing ideologies, vie for power, e.g USA and USSR
  • Multi-polar - superpowers and emerging powers compete for power in different regions - many broadly equally powers, with regional influence but less global influence
  • A uni-polar world should be stable: but the hyperpower is unlikely to be able to maintain control everywhere, all of the time. The costs of being the dominant superpower are high and hard to sustain. The USA has been called 'the world's policeman', meaning it is involved in numerous trouble spots all at the same time
  • Bi-polar situations, such as the Cold War, involve a tense stand-off between opposing powers and might be described as high risk 'scary but stable'. Stability will depend on diplomatic channels of communication between the blocs remaining open and each superpower having the ability to control countries in its bloc; breakdowns of control and/or communication could lead to disastrous conflict
  • Multi-polar systems are complex as there are numerous relationships between more or less equally powerful states; the opportunities to misjudge the intentions of others, or fears over alliances creating ore powerful blocs are high and may increase the risk of conflict
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Emerging powers

  • The global consensus is that some emerging powers will be increasingly important to global economic and political systems in the 21st century and the dominance of the USA will decline. The most likely rival to the USA is China because:
  • It has huge human resources
  • Its economy has grown massively since 1990, and shows few signs of slowing down
  • It increasingly engages with other parts of the world, notably by investing in Africa in terms of mineral resources 
  • It has military ambitions to build a blue water navy, operating beyond its coastline

A global shift and outsourcing of manufacturing has increased jobs, income and consumer spending in emerging and developing countries around the world, particularly in Asia

Future superpowers are likely to emerge from two groups of countries which overlap:

  • BRIC countries - combined GDP in 2014 was US$16.4 trillion - about 8% less than the USA.
  • G20 major economies - account for 85% of global GDP, 85% of world trade and 65% of the world's population
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By 2014 the BRICs announced that they would create 2 new financial institutions in order to increase their influence around the world:

  • The New Development Bank (NDB) will compete with the IMF to finance infrastructure and other development projects
  • The Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) was established in 2015 with the objective being to provide protection against global liquidity pressures. This includes currency issues where members' national currencies are being adversely affected by global financial pressures
  • Also China has set up the China Development Bank which has become a major player in terms of providing development funds globally
  • These institutions provide alternatives to the mainly western led IGOs that came out of the Bretton Woods agreement which insist on countries implementing pro free-market reforms before being allowed access to funds from the World Bank.

In 2011 the term MINT was first used to refer to Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey which are also showing signs of economic emergence. The MINTs also form part of the 'Next Eleven', a group of 11 countries identified by Goldman Sachs as having the potential to be the largest economies of the 21st century. 

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The growth of the BRICs and MINT countries suggest that a multipolar world is developing. Together these countries also play an important role in global environmental governance; e.g. through their contribution at global conferences such as the COP Climate Change summits.

  • The BRIC countries account for 42% of global CO2 emissions. This means a global environmental governance agreement to tackle global warming has to involve these countries. 
  • At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 the BRIC countries were involved in the agreement in a way they had not been when the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was signed

It is likely that emerging powers in the near future will:

  • Demand more say in global organisations such as the United Nations: there is a case for India having a permanent seat on the UN security council
  • Have more influence over global financial decision-making at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation
  • Play a greater role in international peacekeeping missions and disaster response, as their military capacities grow
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Strengths and weakenesses of emerging economies

SEE TABLE OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF BRIC + MEXICO, INDONESIA AND TURKEY

  • The EU has an economy larger than that of the USA but it has a number of weaknesses:
  • The 28 nations rarely agree easily
  • The EU economy has been weak since the global financial crisis of 2007-8
  • Demographically it has an ageing population; the very high social costs associated with pensions will slow economic growth
  • Possible impacts of Brexit
  • Countries with ageing, or even decling, populations (Russia, Japan, some EU countries and even China) face major problems in the future in paying for increasingly costly healthcare at the same time as their workforce shrinks
  • Shortages of physical resources could derail the ambitions of some countries (India) whereas growing pollution could stall the growth of others (China)
  • Countries with modern infrastructure, balanced economic sectors and good energy 
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supplies (China, Brazil, Mexico) will do better than ones yet to develop these (India, Indonesia, Nigeria)

Development theory

  • Rostows's Modernisation Theory ('Take-Off Model') - 1960. It is a 5 stage model that outlines 5 phases that countries must pass through to develop and gain more power. It argues that pre-indsutrial societies develop very slowly until certain preconditions for take-off are met. These preconditions included:
  • Exports of raw materials to generate income; development of key infrastructure; technology; education; banking and financial systems, to allow places to take part in global trade; governance and legal systems 
  • Once these were in place, industrialisation and the growth of the secondary (manufacturing) industry would begin, along with increasing urbanisation. A country would then become an industrial one, and acquire wealth and power.
  • Rostow's model only describes the process of economic change and growth - it does not help us to understand how some countries gain the political and cultural aspects of power needed to be a superpower.
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  • Frank's Dependency Theory - 1967. It split the world into developed core countries and underdeveloped peripheral countries. He suggested that the relationship between the core and periphery is one of dependency and helps to maintain and increase the power of the core countries, whilst the peripheral countries remain weak.
  • Frank saw periphery countries providing a range of services to core countries, such as:
  • Cheap commodities such as oil, copper, coffee and cocoa; labour in the form of migration, especially 'brain drain' migration of skilled workers; markets for manufactured goods and locations for investment such as mines and HEP dams
  • This power is maintained because the developed countries control the development of the developing nations by setting the price paid for commodities leading to low profits. Tariffs are added to any processed imports which deters investment. 
  • Core countries also interfere in economies via the World Bank and IMF, and using economic and military aid to 'buy' the loyalty of satellite states.
  • Dependency theory is relevant to superpower status in a number of ways: superpowers that control developing nations are gaining economic wealth and power by exploiting them; keeping these countries underdeveloped reduces the number of emerging powers; wealthy local elites benefit because they control the limited trade in goods and services, but the wider population does not benefit
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  • The fact that NICs have broken free and developed, e.g. Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, does not support dependency theory as this would suggest there was no way to move from the periphery to the core. But, it is true that many Asian NICs received significant economic aid and political support from the USA to help them develop, suggesting that without support from core countries it isn't possible to change status
  • A weakness of dependency theory is that it is static - this theory suggests that countries are stuck in a permanently underdeveloped state. The rise of NIC nations since 1980 adds to this weakness ad suggests that the world is more complex than a simple superpower core and underdeveloped periphery
  • Wallerstein's World Systems Theory - 1970s. Wallerstein stressed that development should be viewed within a global context rather than focussing on individual countries. He does not see the world in Frank's developed versus developing world terms, but rather as a global system of core (OECD countries, USA+EU superpowers), semi-periphery (NICs of Latin America+Asia, e.g. India, China) and periphery nations (rest of developing world)
  • He argued that cycles of growth and stagnation which typify capitalist development allow some countries to shift between the tiers, becoming more or less powerful, thereby leading to changing patterns of power over time. E.g. China moving into the core.
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WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS OF SUPERPOWERS ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, POLITICAL SYSTEMS AND THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT?

  • Superpowers have a disproportionate influence on the global economy. The USA, EU and Japan - which in 2016 accounted for about 60% of global GDP - are all Western capitalist economies. This means that they:
  • Are capitalist, i.e. people own businesses and employ workers, and make their own profits
  • Promote free trade (no restrictions e.g.tariffs/quotas) in goods and services across borders
  • Are dominated  by private enterprise, rather than government-owned companies
  • Promote wealth creation and accumulation by companies and individuals
  • The Bretton Woods Agreement came into force in 1946 signalling the start of the IMF and World Bank. Since the Bretton Woods Agreement, 3 international governmental organisations (IGOs) have worked together to promote free trade and capitalist economies. Together the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO) have collectively striven to build a belief that free trade is the way forward in terms of development
  • They believe that a successful world economy is based on increasing the flow of trade by reducing taxes and tariffs, standardising products so that consumers can buy compatible 
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and reliable products, and outlaw damaging competition such as flooding a market with subsidised prodcts so as to put competitors out of business.

  • The policies these IGOs encourage or impose are intended to help countries to go through Rostow's five stages of modernisation that the USA and Europe have already experienced.
  • IGOs are a form of indirect power used by superpowers to maintain countrol

World Bank - 1944

  • Lends money to developing and emerging economies to promote economic development
  • Done within a Western capitalist model and money originates from developed countries
  • Through its funding of development projects, which were intended to help developing countries meet some of the pre conditions for take-off in the Rostow model, the World Bank has helped capitalism to develop worldwide
  • All World Bank presidents have been American. It has a proportional voting system based on the amount of money each country has invested. In 2016, the USA had 16% of votes, and the power of the World Bank definitely lies within the hands of the wealthiest economies.
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International Monetary Fund - 1945

  • Promotes global economic stability, aids economies in opening up to world trade and investment, comes to the aid of countries in economic difficulty
  • Currently has 185 members. Members are assigned financial ratings reflecting their relative economic power. Voting rights are proportional to the amount of money invested into the fund.
  • The USA has nearly 17%, EU combined have 25.7%, Western developed countries have 54.5%, BRICs have 9.7%, most of Africa's poorest countries have <1% between them

World Trade Organisation - 1947

  • Works to remove barriers to international trade. Has negotiated a sequence of global free trade agreements that have gradually removed trade taxes and quotas
  • Operates a system of 'one country, one vote', which in theory is fairer to developing countries. However, no votes have ever been taken at the WTO. Decision-making is by mutual agreement but most bargaining favours the EU and the USA
  • WTO is currently focussed on programmes of poverty reduction, by removing farm
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  • subsidies in developing countries to stimulate efficient production. But the result has been that in many developing countries, cheaper imports then undercut local farmers, who are forced out of business. Given the continued existence of farm subsidies within the EU and USA this again shows how the power is not held by developing countries.
  • Part of the role of the WTO is to manage world patents - since most of the research and innovation takes place in countries with superpower status, it is they who profit from the system

World Economic Forum (WEF) - 1971

  • A Swiss non-profit organisation
  • It acts as a forum for discussion between business, politicians and IGOs
  • It is pro-free trade and pro-TNCs
  • The group is criticised for prioritising capitalism and globalisation at the expense of tackling poverty, as well as placing too much trust in individuals who are not always globally respected

Most IGOs operate some form of veto policy, and powers such as the EU and the USA tend to vote with each other. This gives them the opportunity to block policy they do not like, and force their own policies.

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TNCs

  • Trans-national corporation - a company that operates in more than one country
  • Public TNCs - owned by numerous shareholders (usually other TNCs, banks, financial institutions such as pension funds); those shareholders profit from the money made by the TNC. E.g. Apple, Tesco, Shell and Zara. 
  • The UK and the USA are examples of countries that have a lot of publicly traded TNCs as a result of privatisations that took place in the 1980s and 90s. If these privatised businesses fail, then the government has to rescue them as has been the case with RBS. The UK still maintains some state-ownership, e.g. the BBC and NHS
  • State-owned TNCs - majority or wholly owned by the government. These are still commercial operations but the profits go back to the state. E.g. Bank of China, EDF and Petronas, Gazprom
  • These profits can be invested in infrastructure projects which help the country to further develop and become an even more attractive location for FDI and other TNCs. This money has also led to the creation of sizeable Sovereign Wealth Funds, which allows those countries to invest around the continent. E.g. China have been able to pour investment into the African continent. The downside of state ownership is that sometimes these companies become inefficient, corrupt and can accumulate debt
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  • State-led TNCs are found in countries which do not follow the Western capitalism mdoel, such as China and Russia. They are less democratic and governments want the profits from business for themselves. These TNCs are often within strategic industries, such as banking, oil and gas, vehicle manufacturing and the steel industry.
  • SEE TABLE FOR TOP 10 GLOBAL COMPANIES BY REVENUE
  • TNCs are responsible for 80% of all global trade (2013 US$ 20 trillion).
  • Apple's annual revenue is roughly the same size as the total GDP of Finland or Chile
  • Walmart employs 2.3 million people worldwide
  • 62% of the world's 2000 biggest companies in 2016 were from the EU, USA and Japan, with over 25% from the USA alone
  • TNCs are influential in a number of ways in terms of maintaining power and generating wealth:
  • Their economic power influences trade patterns, and therefore the location of areas of growth because of their FDI
  • If TNCs decide to move somewhere else, they can cause economic decline
  • TNCs invest heavily in new technology and patents: this earns them more money through new products and the royalties paid by other companies to use their patents
  • 90% of global patent royalties are paid to EU, US and Japanese companies
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  • Patent - the legal protection given to a new invention: other companies can use it, but only on payment of a royalty fee to the inventor (usually a company). The granting of the exclusive right of ownership and possession of intellectual property by a state to an investor for a fixed period of time (20 years).
  • In addition copyright is granted to artistic works such as music, books and artwork and trademarks are granted to protect designs such as logos
  • TRIPS (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) undoubtedly favour TNCs. They are encouraged/incentivised to spend money on R+D, and innovation in the knowledge that they will be able to protect these new ideas and make money from them. R+D also allows TNCs to maintain their competitve edge.
  • Developed world TNCs are in the best position to invest in R+D, so existing patent holders also tend to be new patent holders.
  • Westernisation and cultural globalisation tends to spread US and European music, film and TV (copyright) and brands (trademarks)
  • Governments compete to attract FDI by providing tax breaks and favourable tax deals. E.g. in 2015 HSBC announced that it might move its global headquarters out of the UK becuase the UK government was imposing a bank levy that would threaten its profits. In 2016, the UK government reduced to levy to a surcharge and HSBC was persuaded to keep its headquarters in London
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  • TNCs are key drivers of cultural globalisation and Westernisation.
  • Brand value or brand equity - the value of a brand measured using metrics such as market share, consumer opinion of the brand and brand loyalty
  • Of the top 16 brands in 2015, 12 were from the USA, 2 from Germany and 1 each from South Korea and Japan. 10 of the top 16 brands are involved in ICT and communications, 3 are carmakers and 2 are food and drink. Many are instantly recognisable by their logo.
  • Global culture is most often exemplified by the ubiquity of consumer icons such as Coca Cola and McDonalds. McDonalds - 36000 restaurants worldwide serve about 65 million people every day. This is an example of how TNCs use soft power to maintain influence

Global action and global police

  • Superpowers and emerging powers have the ability to act globally. This is especially true of the USA. The idea that some countries should act as the 'world's police' dates back to the end of WW2 when Franklin D Roosevelt proposed a council he called 'The four policemen'. His vision was that the USA, UK, Soviet Union and the Republic of China would be responsible for guaranteeing peace around the world. This idea led to the setting up of the UN Security Council in 1946.
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  • A key characteristic of a true superpower is that weaker countries look to it to act in times of crisis. This includes:
  • Intervening in war and conflict, especially when an internal conflict threatens to spill out into other countries
  • Taking action in terms of crisis response, e.g. natural disaster, famine or disease outbreak
  • Responding to terrorism, such as the threat from ISIS or Al Qaeda
  • Responding to longer-term threats, such as climate change induced global warming
  • As a powerful country, the USA is often expected to act as a 'global policeman'. For the USA, this expectation is a heavy responsibility and also a huge economic cost.
  • March 2016 - Obama and Trump agree that the USA cannot police the world anymore
  • Examples of global action:
  • 2014 Ebola epidemic - USA, UK and France led the crisis response in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, deploying military and medical assets
  • 2011 Libya crisis - The EU, led by France and the UK, took military action against the Gaddafi regime, with the help of US military intelligence
  • War on Terror - Since 2001, the USA has led a global effort against Islamic terrorism in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, East Africa and the Middle East
  • 2010 Haiti earthquake - The USA used its vast naval and air force assets to respond to this disaster with medical, food and infrastructure aid
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Alliances

  • Military alliances - these are a key element of superpower status. As far as the West is concerned, the most important alliance is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - formed in 1949 at start of Cold War; 28 member states that collectively account for most of the world's firepower including nuclear weapons; adpots the principle that an attack on one member is an attack on all; since 1991 and the end of the cold war, NATO's influence has diminished to such an extent that its role is now being questioned, e.g. by Trump
  • However Russian military action in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine and Crimea (2014), as well as Russian naval and air exercise in European waters and airspace in 2016, have brought NATO back to being a world player
  • The USA has a broad global military alliance. The USA and its military allies spent US$966 billion on their militaries in 2015, or 58% of global military spending
  • The other globally important military alliance is the Australian, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) - This is a 1951 security agreement that binds Australia, New Zealand and the USA to co-operate on military matters in the Pacific and beyond.
  • It has helped the USA to maintain its military presence in the Pacific and also led Australia and New Zealand to provide military forces for Afghanistan.
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  • Economic alliances - Interdependence between nations is further strengthened by economic alliances which regard mutual trade and interdependence as the best way to increase global influence. Those countries that are members of military alliance are also often part of economic alliances. E.g. many NATO members are also EU members and the USA is part of NATO and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The ASEAN trade bloc (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations) introduced a single market in 2016.
  • In the future, the signing of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could create a vast free-trade zone covering the EU and the USA, with a population of over 800 million people, and with the potential for other countries to join.
  • These alliances force countries to work with each other and as a group they have a greater global influence on matters such as trade and globalisation.
  • Environmental alliances - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was first established in 1988 by the UN. It produced reports which support the main international treaty on climate change, known as the UN framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its brief is to ‘stabalise greenhouse gas concentrations….at a level that….prevents dangerous anthropogenic (i.e. human) interference with the climate’. It does not fund its own research.
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The United Nations

  • The UN is one of the most significant IGOs in the world having grown from 26 countries in 1945 to 193 by 2016. The aim of the UN is to prevent a recurrence of global conflict, by focussing on establishing fundamental human rights and equal rights for both men and women in all nations. 
  • UN Security Council - than the other non-permanent members do. They maintain power by: Applying sanctions (diplomatic or military) to countries that are deemed to be a security risk, harbouring terrorism, threatening or invading another state or breaching human rights; Authorising the use of military force against a country; Authorising a UN Peacekeeping force. In 2016 there were 16 UN peacekeeping missions deployed around the world, made up of military personnel from every member state. There are five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the USA, Russia, China, France and the UK) and ten other members that are elected for two year periods.
  • International Court of Justice - resolves legal questions and disputes brought to it by the UN member states. Its legal framework is a Western one. Its 9 judges are nominated by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. They're all from different countries, but the 5 permanent members of the Security Council always have a judge in the court. 
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  • Until recently China repeatedly abstained from votes, believing that even peacekeeping is interference, but it has started to engage with issues that help it achieve its international superpower ambitions. 
  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and its scientific advisory panel the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are important in informing the debate on global warming, and thus international agreements such as the COP21 agreement in Paris 2015 where many countries pledged to reduce CO2 emissions
  • Some would argue that since the UN is a system that was set up in a previous century it is not a wonder that it is a system that is now under strain:
  • Its more active leaders – the USA, UK and France – are not as economically or militarily powerful as they were
  • There is a strong case for emerging powers such as India and Brazil to have more of a say in world affairs.
  • The global financial crisis of 2007-2008, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, strained the IMF and global financial system to the limit and made many economists wonders if there was a ‘better way’
  • The ongoing threat of global terrorism from al-Qaeda, Islamic State and the Taliban, among others, might suggest that global security co-operation is not all it could be.
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  • Superpowers have very large resource footprints. Maintaining a large economy, a military with global reach and satisfying the demands of a wealthy population requires energy (usually met by the increased use of fossil fuels), minerals, land and water resources
  • Global environmental governance is disproportionately influenced by superpowers. This is most obvious when it comes to global warming - any attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will fail unless big emitters agree, because they account for such a large percentage of global emissions
  • Use of fossil fuels - urban air quality is low in emerging superpower cities due to their heavy reliance on fossil fuels. E.g. China and India are particularly dependent on coal-fired power stations because they both have access to large amounts of cheap coal within their countries. In India, open stoves are still widely used and a rise in car use has also had an impact. Air quality in Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi and Mumbai regularly exceed WHO safe limits. Oil spills such as BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico releasing about 450 million litres of oil, polluted the sea and nearby coastline. Chemicals used in the spraying dispersant to reduce the oil slick damaged marine life as well as other wildlife along the coast. 
  • The global nature of trade means that shipping makes a significant contribution to global CO2 emissions. China's demand for raw materials is such that it accounted for 90% of global growth in sea traffic in the 21st century.
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  • Demand for food - as emering economies continue to urbanise, convert more land into farmland and increase their demands for water and chemicals to increase yield, deforestation and land degradation increasingly become issues. Brazil's food production increased by 26% between 2002 and 2012, turning it from the world's largest importer to a major exporter. Forest has been cleared and land converted to cropland and pasture. Beef exports have increased by 10x. Meat production, in particular, requires more intensive use of resources: approx 15,000 litres of water are needed to produce a kg of beef. Agriculture causes 8-18% of global greenhouse emissions. In the 1990s Brazil deforested an area the size of Belgium, but rates fell significantly in the early 21st century. There is evidence that the current president, Michel Temer, is not so committed to preventing deforestation
  • Demand for minerals - landscape scarring as opencast mining removes vegetation and scars the landscape. This creates noise and air pollution; waste may contaminate groundwater. In 1998 China made 100 million tonnes of steel - 13% of the global total. It now makes 5x that, amounting to 33% of the total, with a steel industry 4x the size of the USA's. China is now the biggest producer and consumer of steel in the world. Trump has just signed a deal on tariffs for imports of steel and aluminium into the USA.
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  • Superpowers and emerging nations have increased their wealth and standard of living dramatically, leading to an accelerating rise in the demand for energy and other resources. This can cause both local and global environmental damage, from localised river pollution to climate change and global sea level rise. Providing these resources can lead to deforestation and desertification, as well as scarring the landscape during mining. As demands for energy grow ever higher, areas such as the Arctic could be exploited, with unconventional sources and methods such as fracking growing more popular, and energy pathways becoming more complex and risky.

Environmental governance

  • Just as the world looks to the superpowers to act as 'global policemen', many people would look to the same countries to show leadership on environmental issues. However, there are national differences in the willingness to take action and to sign up to global agreements.
  • Economic growth and personal wealth are given a higher priority than environmental issues insome countries, notably the emerging countries. It is concerning that China's emissions per person are the same as those as an EU citizen but average per capita income is significantly lower (US$8300 in China in 2014, US$34,300 in EU)
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  • China's emissions could grow much higher as affluence rises. Decisions that China makes on emissions therefore have a disproportionate impact on global emissions because its share and potential for growth are so large
  • EU 20:20:20 targets - the 2020 energy goals are to have a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, 20% of the energy, on the basis of consumption, coming from renewables and a 20% increase in energy efficiency. 
  • Governments have worked with car manufacturers to reduce emissions and given grants to encourage renewable energy.
  • EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) - first major carbon trading market
  • USA - more reluctant to lead on climate change, with its failure to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and its recent shift towards unconventional sources of energy. Under Trump, USA withdrew from the 2015 Paris agreement
  • China - any global reduction agreement would be meaningless without the participation of China since it is the world's major emitter of greenhosue gases and has been since 2007 and it accounts for half the world's coal consumption. In 2014, China agreed to work towards an emissions peak in 2030. Chinese companies are now some of the biggest clean-energy firms in the world, with heavy investment in the production of solar panels.
  • Russia - supported 2015 Paris agreement. Much of its wealth is based on the export of 
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natural gas. Its agreement to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% below 1990 levels could actually allow it to increase its emissions.

Reasons to be positive about environmental governance:

  • Brazil has dramatically slowed forest loss and expanded protected areas since 2005
  • China has become the world's biggest investor in renewable wind power and solar power and has cut back on coal burning

Over the next 30-40 years resource demand in the USA and EU is likely to remain static. Most people are already wealthy and their demand for additional resources will be met by increaasingly efficient use of existing resources.

In emerging powers, this is not the case. Pressure on resources has a number of causes:

  • Increased population, especially in India, Indonesia and Brazil
  • Increased wealth: the global middle class (people earning US$10-100 per day) is expected to increase from 2 billion in 2012 to a staggering 5 billion by 2030. In the Asia Pacific region numbers could swell from 600 million in 2015 to 3000 million by 2030. 
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  • China's middle class has now overtaken that of the USA to become the largest in the world, and some say as many as 500 million Chinese could enter the global middle classes over the next decade. 
  • This rising middle-class demand will affect the availability and cost of key resources such as rare earth minerals, oil and gas, staple grains and water
  • Rare earth elements (REE) - increasing wealth in emerging countries has increased demand for more high-tech goods, many of which depend on 'rare earth' elements. A great deal of water, acid and electricity is used in the extraction processes. Processing one tonne of rare earths can produce 2000 tonnes of toxic waste, and if this waste mixes with surface water or groundwater, there is a significant environmental impact. 80-90% of rare earth production is in China. This raises the possibility of shortages due to resource nationalism (when a country keeps domestically produced resources for itself, rather than trading them internationally).
  • Food supply - as China and India develop there will be increased demand for staple grains (wheat, rice). Demand for meat, dairy products and sugar will also rise as these countries transition to 'Western' diets - the Chinese eat nearly 3x as much meat as in 1990. Consumption of milk+dairy quadrupled from 1995 to 2010 among urban residents. China buys far more processed foods, increasing about 2/3 from 2008 to 2016.
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  • Water supply - in the USA and EU washing machines, dishwashers, a daily bath/shower and swimming pools are common. There are concerns that industrialising countries will overuse available water: India, where farmers have been supplied with solar-powered pumps and they are now using groundwater 3x faster than it can be replenished; China has renewable resources of 2000 tonnes per capita, which is double the UN definition of water scarcity. 70% of China's water goes to farming and 20% to the coal industry. Each of these industries is located in Northern China - an area of water scarcity - where the average water availability per capita is just 200 tonnes. In Beijing total consumption exceeded supply by 70% in 2012, as more residents installed showers and flush toilets
  • Oil - in 2015 the USA used 19 million barrels of oil per day, China 12 million and India 4 million. What if Indian and CHinese demand reached USA levels?
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WHAT SPHERES OF INFLUENCE ARE CONTESTED BY SUPERPOWERS AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS?

Physical resources

  • Superpowers and emerging powers need physical resources, especially fossil fuels, minerals and ores. Some have these domestically but in many cases they must be obtained through international trade. This can mean:
  • Buying resources at high prices, e.g. in 2008 crude oil was priced at US$140 per barrel
  • Trading with unfriendly regimes, or ones that are poltically unstable, e.g. Iranian+ Iraqi oil
  • During conflict, trade routes and therefore supply is blocked
  • These factors increase the advantage of  claiming new territory and its resources. This can be done in several ways:
  • Invasion and conquest of another country's territory, which is rare
  • Claiming offshore, undersea resources by extending a country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which is more common
  • Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) - extends 200 nautical miles offshore from a country's coast, and includes all resources in and under the sea. 
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  • Tensions are more likely where countries and TNCS have a ‘must have’ attitude to the resources in questions. If the players involved in making these decisions are prepared to invest in an alternative (e.g. renewable energy over fossil fuels), or prioritise conservation over resource exploitation, then tensions are likely to reduce.
  • Some resources are contested for a variety of reasons which include:
  • The land border between two countries is in dispute, such as the border between India and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir
  • The ownership of a landmass is in dispute, such as Argentina’s claim to the UK-governed Falkland Islands (which may contain offshore oil and gas resources)
  • The extent of a nation’s offshore exclusive economic zone is in dispute or claimed by another nation. The latter situation is the case in the Arctic, where several nations claim ownership of areas of the Arctic Ocean, which may contain valuable oil and gas reserves.
  • Any attempt to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic could become a source of diplomatic if not actual conflict. In addition, the risks of environmental disaster from oil spills is high in one of the few remaining pristine ecosystems on the planet with a large indigenous population (the Inuit)
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Intellectual property

  • Human resources are a key element of power. This is especially the case with regard to new inventions and discoveries such as:
  • New military technology, used for defence or attack
  • Inventions and new products that could bring riches
  • Most inventions are made by government organisations or TNCs through R+D
  • Intellectual property - intangible property that is the result of a person's creativity - includes Trademark, copyright, patent protection and a system of royalty payments for the rights to use IP developed by someone else
  • To prevent new inventions being copied illegally, they are protected by an international system of intellectual property (IP). Without this:
  • TNCs would be reluctant to invest in R+D, because they would gain little profit from inventions that were immediately copied
  • Countries would be reluctant to trade, because their IP would fall into the hands of others who would steal it
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  • A global system of IP has been running since 1967 by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a part of the UN. It ensures that TNCs, government agencies, businesses and individuals can protect new inventions, trademarks, artistic works and trade secrets from use by others.
  • Without this protection it is hard for companies to gain back the money they spend on R+D and as a result they tend to do less of it and become less innovative.
  • The cost of developing new medicines or communication technologies could not be recouped through selling products if others could simply copy them.
  • In 2011, 32 countries signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, including the USA and EU, but the biggest counterfeiter, China, did not sign it. However, as China develops, it is encouraging its companies to become more innovative, and is starting to take copyright and intellectual property law more seriously.
  • IP has economic value - royalty fees alone amount to US$150-200 billion annually, with 80% going to the USA, Japan and western Europe. 
  • Intellecutal property theft, counterfeiting and industrial espionage can strain trade relationships, causing problems.
  • Faking brands is illegal and constitutes an international crime against intellectual property rights (IPR) under WTO rules. Counterfeiting has grown because global manufacturing
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  • has shifted to countries where intellectual property rights are poorly protected. The internet has made it easier to find the technological information required to make fake products as well as to sell and distribute such products around the world.
  • The importance of intellectual property rights has grown significantly since the 1990s, with the globalisation of technology as well as rapid breakthroughs in new technologies.
  • In addition, the rise of emerging nations has provided a key market for counterfeit goods, one of the most prevalent ways to violate international property rights - these countries have a weak ability to protect intellectual property rights, and little or no interest in doing so.
  • An estimated 5–10% of world trade is in counterfeit goods. This is thought to cost hundreds of thousands of jobs in places such as the USA and EU, and hundreds of billions in lost revenue for businesses every year. 
  • It has been estimated that counterfeit goods sales account for 5-8% of China's GDP.
  • Chinese car companies have copied designs from BMW and Mercedes.
  • Fake Apple products are common in China: 22 fake Apple Stores were found in China in 2011.
  • In 2013 the UN estimated that 70% of all of the world’s counterfeit goods originated in China.
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  • TNCs may limit investment in China if they fear IP theft
  • Total losses worldwide are probably US$400-600 billion annually
  • Trade deals with countries such as China are made much harder by its failure to tackle IP theft
  • Counterfeit goods are often unsafe, putting consumers at risk

Political spheres

  • Sphere of influence - a physical region over which a country believes it has economic, military, cultural or political rights. Spheres of influences extend beyond the borders of the country and represent a region where the country believes it has a right to influence the policies of other countries
  • Such disputes frequently flare up, often because:
  • The balance of power changes, such as when Pakistan tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, putting it on par with India in terms of military capability
  • Disputed territories are visited by high-level officials
  • Military 'sabre rattling' occurs, such as flying jets or sailing naval vessels close to a disputed territory: this frequently occurs in the South and East China seas by both China and the USA
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  • TNCs may limit investment in China if they fear IP theft
  • Total losses worldwide are probably US$400-600 billion annually
  • Trade deals with countries such as China are made much harder by its failure to tackle IP theft
  • Counterfeit goods are often unsafe, putting consumers at risk

Political spheres

  • Sphere of influence - a physical region over which a country believes it has economic, military, cultural or political rights. Spheres of influences extend beyond the borders of the country and represent a region where the country believes it has a right to influence the policies of other countries
  • Such disputes frequently flare up, often because:
  • The balance of power changes, such as when Pakistan tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, putting it on par with India in terms of military capability
  • Disputed territories are visited by high-level officials
  • Military 'sabre rattling' occurs, such as flying jets or sailing naval vessels close to a disputed territory: this frequently occurs in the South and East China seas by both China and the USA
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  • New resources are discovered or suspected, such as the possibility of oil in waters off the Falkland Islands, governed by the UK but claimed by Argentina
  • Several locations in the world have contested spheres of influence and we are going to look at two of those: Russia’s western border, South and East China seas
  • The environmental consequences of such conflicts are often overlooked. As well as the impact on human life, made worse through famine or drought, munitions aimed at destroying enemy targets do extensive damage.
  • In the post-2001 Afghan conflict, US weapons are estimated to have destroyed 10,000 villages and their surrounding environments, including safe drinking water sources. The destruction of forests has had a drastic impact on timber exports, and military activities made it difficult for leopards and birds to survive in mountain environments. Pollution from explosives leaves toxic substances that can cause cancer.
  • In the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, rocket attacks and oil spills killed fish and endangered species of turtles, as well as degrading the beaches in Beirut.
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  • Low-income countries could have new relationships with emerging powers, e.g. China's interest in Sub-Saharan Africa. China's interest is based on exploiting Africa's abundant and undeveloped physical resources:
  • Copper ore in Zambia; Crude oil in Angola, Sudan and Chad; Coltan from the DRC
  • China has become a major economy – growing from the world’s sixth to second largest (behind the USA) between 2000 and 2016. It is expected to overtake the US in the coming decades. China’s growing demand for resources has led to increasing trade relations with the developing world and in particular Africa.
  • China has become a source of FDI, not just a destination for it and some of its investment abroad has been in Africa. This has led to increased interdependence between China and Africa.
  • By 2015 China had built 2250 km of railways and 3350 km of roads in Africa. One example of infrastructure investment is the renewal of the Tazara railway, which links the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with Zambia’s inland copper belt. Another example of the deepening involvement of China in Africa is the $4 billion dollar 298 mile stretch of railway link between Nairobi and Mombasa. 
  • Throughout Africa, China has also build schools, hospitals, anti-malarial centres and agricultural technology demonstration centres.
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Opportunities

  • China-Africa relations are based on trade, not ex-colonial ties
  • Chinese mines and factories bring jobs and raise incomes and GDP
  • Chinese factories and mines bring modern working practices, and technology to Africa.
  • In order to develop mining and factory investment, China has invested huge sums in HEP, railways, ports and roads - which can be used more widely
  • Chinese finance has funded seventeen major HEP projects since 2000, adding 6780MW of electricity to the continent by 2013.
  • China-Africa trade was worth US$200 billion in 2016, a huge sum for a developing region
  • Investment deals are often accompanies by aid, so the benefits of Chinese money are more widely spread.

Challenges

  • Countries without natural resources China wants are left out
  • Skilled and technical jobs are often filled by Chinese migrant workers estimated to number 200,000 in 2014.
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  • Mining and oil exploitation risks causing deforestation, oil spills and water pollution
  • Cheap Chinese imported goods have undercut some local African producers, especially of textiles
  • Africa's economic model is still cheap raw material exports, and expensive manufactured imports
  • Much of the FDI brings only temporary construction jobs; there are few long-term jobs in mechanised mines and oil fields.
  • Aid from China is tied to FDI: allow investment and China provides some aid.

China's involvement in Africa has created greater interdependence - when one country or region relies, to a large degree, on another to ensure its economic prosperity:

  • China relies on African oil – from Angola, Nigeria and Sudan – as well as minerals such as Zambian copper, and even sugar and biofuels grown in Africa, to fuel its growing economy.
  • Africa increasingly imports Chinese manufactured goods and relies on Chinese investments in infrastructure like roads, rail and ports.
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  • A few examples of environmental impacts that have been created as a result of China’s investment and resource exploitation Include:
  • Chinese imports of tropical timber have been linked to widespread, illegal deforestation in Mozambique.
  • Oil spills linked to Chinese funded oil wells have been reported in Chad, Sudan and Angola.
  • The extraction of the metallic ore coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to widespread forest loss and river pollution, but is vital to Chinese mobile phone and computer manufacturers.

Asian tensions

  • A number of countries in Asia are gaining the characteristics of superpower countries and are increasing their influence on the global stage. It is widely expected that Asia will be the world’s most populous continent by 2050 and the world’s largest by GDP.
  • By 2030 Indonesia, China, India and Japan are all likely to have economies greater than US$5 trillion which gives them the means to have significant military power. Vietnam, Japan the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and China will all have populations of over 100 million people.
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  • Emerging countries are playing an expanding global role because – increasingly – there is a reversal of FDI flows from emerging to developed countries (Tata steel, which is an Indian company that has invested in the steel industry in the UK is a good example).
  • China and India already look to be vying for Superpower status with India presenting a strong case for a seat on the UN Security Council; against this other counties in the region are working towards third, fourth and fifth places in the regional power rankings.
  • All of this leads to tensions within the region. India and China are both members of the WTO, they both trade with ASEAN and they both are members of the UN, with China being a member of the UN Security Council and India looking to become part of this. They are both also now dominant players on the global stage in the fight to address climate change issues. In addition:
  • In 2015 the BRICs set up the New Development Bank to provide funding for infrastructure and resources for BRICs and other emerging economies. This is in direct competition with the World Bank set up by developed countries after the Second World War and shows how the global influence of the BRICs (including China+India) is increasing.
  • Membership of the G20 also shows the increasing role that India is playing in shaping the decision making on a global scale. The G20 aims to improve international cooperation on a range of issues. By being part of this group India and China can help resolve problems and influence decisions on issues needing global action such as climate change.
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China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ project:

  • The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road or The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese Government in 2013 that focuses on developing infrastructure that aims to link China — physically and financially — to dozens of economies across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Oceania
  • The Chinese government calls the initiative "a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future, while critics call it a push by China to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centred trading network
  • Already, some estimates list the Belt and Road Initiative as one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, including 65% of the world's population and 40% of the global GDP as of 2017.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an "infrastructure gap" and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area and Central and Eastern Europe.
  • China sees itself as a regional superpower. This creates tensions, especially where there are concentrations of military forces, as we saw in the dispute over the South and East China Seas. China wishes to control the maritime routes but faces the US Navy operating in international waters and those of its allies.
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  • India and China represent 36% of the world's population, 18% of global GDP and 32% of global CO2 emissions. China and India relations are interesting:
  • They are ideological rivals: India is the world's largest democracy, whereas China is a communist dictatorship
  • They share a border, but parts are disputed (Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang, Aksai Chin), which led to conflict in 1962, 1967 and 1987
  • China has created a strong economic alliance with Pakistan focused on the US$54 billion Chinese investment in CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), but Pakistan and India have tense, often anatagonistic relations
  • China has the upper-hand in terms of economics, as India has a large trade deficit with China
  • Increasingly, India and China are rivals in outer space. Both have advanced space programmes. The rocket techology from this also helps develop their nuclear missile technology. Both have an aircraft carrier, and both are building more - demonstrating they have regional if not global, naval ambitions
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Middle East tensions

  • The Middle East contains 60% of proven oil reserves - this is why no superpower or emerging power can ignore the Middle East
  • The Middle East is an area of tension and conflict for a number of reasons:
  • The ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict - the USA has traditionally supported Israel with military and economic aid while some Middle Eastern countries, e.g. Iran, are openly hostile towards the Jewish state of Israel and actively support Palestinian military groups
  • Religion - Religious differences between Sunni (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey) and Shia (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon) branches of the Muslim religion are a source of conflict between and sometimes within countries
  • Since 2011, the rise of extremist groups (Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria has created war, terrorism and a refugee crisis, which has forced up to 2 million Syrians to flee and put huge strain on neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which have accepted these refugees
  • The Kurdish people (in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey) are demanding their own state
  • Since 2015 a civil war has raged in Yemen, which has involved Saudi Arabia directly and the USA indirectly
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  • Resources - although rich in fossil fuels, the region is short in water and farmland, meaning territorial conflict over resources is more likely
  • Youth - mnay countries have young populations with high unemployment and relatively low education levels: the potential for young adults to become disaffected is high
  • History - many international borders in the region are arbitrary: they were drawn on a map by colonial powers and do not reflect the actual geography of religious or cultural groups
  • Governance - most of the countries are relatively new states, at least in their current form; democracy is either weak or non-existent; religious and ethnic allegiances are often stronger than national identity ones
  • A broad alliance between the USA, Israel and some EU member states and their Middle Eastern allies set against a loose alliance of Iran, Russia, China and Syria. The alliances range from overt military support, such as US support for Israel, to suspected supply of arms to Iran by China through illicit channels
  • Russia, and to a lesser extent China, tend to support Iran within this region. The USA and EU lean towards Saudi Arabia.
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  • The complexity of Middle Eastern politics, religion, ethnic differences and territorial disputes has led to some intractable and potentially dangerous situations:
  • Turkey has long been fighting a low-level civil war against the Kurds in Turkey, who want their own Kurdish state; however, the Kurds are one of the key groups fighting IS in Syria and Iraq - and Turkey supports this fight as a member of NATO and the 'Western alliance' against IS
  • The EU and USA initially supported the Arab Spring uprising against President Assad in Syria that began in 2011, but by 2015 found themselves bombing IS in Syria, effectively acting on the 'same side' as Assad's forces
  • The air-bombing campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq by the USA, UK, France and other countries since 2014 means those countries are acting with Russia (which supports Assad) while all the time geopolitical relations with Russia deteriorate over the Ukraine crisis
  • Despite a war in Afghanistan led by the USA from 2002 to 2014, Taliban insurgents continue to destabilise the country
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  • The USA and the EU are two of the world’s largest economic powers, but we have seen that this may not be the case for too much longer. Both of these regions face significant economic challenges that may prevent them from maintaining their global importance. It can be argued that the USA is in a slightly stronger position than the EU because:
  • Although the USA consists of 50 states which are all slightly different, these differences are minor and they are not sovereign, unlike the 28 countries that make up the EU. The states of the USA are much more likely to agree on policy than the countries of the EU.
  • The USA is not ageing as fast as Europe. The fertility rate in the USA is 1.9 as compared to 1.6 for the EU, so its population will be more youthful for longer.
  • Both the USA and the EU face the ongoing costs of economic restructuring that has occurred as a result of the global shift east of manufacturing; this has left these countries in the post-industrial economic stage where the majority of the jobs are in the tertiary (services) and quaternary (research and development knowledge and information) sectors. The four broad challenges faced by the USA and the EU are:
  • Unemployment - Cities and regions dependent on traditional manufacturing and mining have lost many jobs and high unemployment is a real issue, e.g. the loss of jobs in car manufacturing (General Motors) in Detroit, USA. Loss of manufacturing jobs to emerging economies through globalisation has led to a pool of middle-aged, low skilled, male workers without jobs - many rely on social security payments from the government
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  • Social costs - Unemployment tends to break up community networks with those who lost their jobs often lacking the skills to get a job in the new post-industrial economy; often these people, faced with the prospect of being unemployed long term, suffer from mental health problems such as depression. People were often forced to move away from the area in search of work, often to London and the South East. This has the impact of leaving the most vulnerable behind and further exacerbating the problems faced by the area. A decaying living environment with fewer services and maintained public spaces such as parks and recreational areas often resulted. It has been suggested that this reduces the gross motor development of children and limits the development of the social skills they need to perform well in a services and knowledge economy.
  • Economic restructuring - As already mentioned the EU and the USA are being forced to move their economies from the manufacturing (secondary) sector toward the tertiary and quaternary sectors. This requires a highly skilled workforce and a recent UK government report concluded that since the UK ranks 24th for intermediate skills (GCSE and A level) and 11th for high skill (tertiary) it is in danger of falling behind since other countries appear to be investing in skills more effectively.
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  • Again, as mentioned, the global shift in manufacturing creates challenges for disadvantaged communities in developed countries who have lower skill levels and are not able to fully participate in the tertiary/quaternary job market. There are high costs linked to regenerating former industrial areas and the workforce needs retraining and re-skilling in tertiary sector jobs.
  • Debt - The global recession (from 2008) created higher public debt in rich countries. Countries are then faced with the choice of raising taxes to pay debt interest, but this can slow the economy even further; another option is to introduce austerity measures and thus spend less and lower costs such as wages, but this can also slow economic growth. A geopolitical risk is that these countries begin to rely on capital investment from emerging economies and this allow them to further increase their political and economic power. By 2016 debt levels had reached 90% of annual GDP in the UK, 75% in the USA and 214% in Japan.
  • Ageing and care - rising life expectancy and low fertility rates mean an ageing population. Care home, nursing care and pension costs are all rising. This has to be paid for by a shrinking working-age population in many EU countries
  • High debt levels, economic restructuring and high social costs represent an opportunity for India and China - the two emerging powers have a chance to pull level with the USA and EU because of the ongoing and long-term nature of these problems
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  • Spending has to be divided between naval, nuclear, air power, intelligence services. The USA spends more than US$ 900 billion annually on maintaining its global supremacy. This includes all military spending and intelligence services as well as foreign aid and NASA. By comparison China spends about US$200 billion. Emerging countries have the advantage that they can copy technologies that were first developed by the USA (at huge cost).
  • In total, defence expenditure in the UK in 2016/17 was £35.3bn. That makes the UK spend per person on defence in 2016/17 £538 (the third highest in NATO).

UK:

  • A decision was taken by the UK government in 2016 to replace the trident submarine nuclear arsenal – this was a controversial decision as people believe that the money might be better spend on things like improving healthcare and education. The UK is also building two new aircraft carriers – one, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, was completed in 2017 at a cost of £3.1 billion and the other, the HMS Prince of Wales, began construction in 2011 and is due to be completed in 2020 at a similar cost (these costs do not include the aircraft)
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USA:

  • Defence takes up about 15% of all spending
  • Intelligence services cost about US$80 billion annually
  • Spending by NASA on space exploration totalled US$18.5 billion in 2016
  • Each of the USA's ten planned Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carriers will cost US$10.4 billion

Global power in 2030 and 2050

Possible scenarios:

  • Uni-polar - the USA remains the single, dominant global hegemon
  • Bi-polar - China draws level with the USA
  • Multi-polar - the USA and EU decline relative to increasingly powerful BRICs
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  • Each of the possible geopolitical structures has different implications for:
  • Stability: the ‘regional mosaic’ is probably the most unstable as broadly equal powerful countries would make complex and competing alliances and no one would act as the ‘global police’. A new bi-polar cold war could lead to a period of tense stability.
  • Resources: The ‘Asian century’ scenario would see strong economic and population growth in Asia, but continued demand for resources in the West. An expanding Asian middle class is likely to lead to a 35% increase in demand for food, a 40% increase in demand for water and 50% increase in demand for energy by 2030 – risking shortages and unrest and/or conflict over remaining resources.
  • Military: A new arms race is a possible outcome of the new Cold War scenario. As China expands its global reach with naval and air power the USA and its allies may need to react by diverting resources away from economic growth and social programmes into guns and ships.
  • Economics: The Asian century scenario would cause a fundamental shift in the world’s economy; global economic well-being would depend on the health of NICs in Asia rather than the economics of Europe and North America.
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