unit 3 geography superpowers


maintaining power

  • international influence has to be maintained
  • The USA has an enormous military reach around the world giving it more military power than any other nation
  • the NATO military alliance provides the USA with allies in north america, europe and the middle east
  • you have the use of hard and soft power mechanisms
  • hard power mechanisms involves use of military presence and force which involves use of airspace, military bases, alliances, and diplomatic threats
  • soft power mechanisms involves use of culture and ideology in which media is used to promote these interests
  • inbetween these two mechanism types is Aid and trade in which certain trade partners are favoured which has positvie and negative consequences, trade blocs and alliances, influencing policy anbd the use of economic sanctions 
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timeline of changing superpowers

  • 1800-1918 :
  • british empire - The uk is the dominat global power, at one point controlling aroun 25% of the land area of the earth
  • 1918-1945:
  • transition period - increasing power of the USA and Russia , the rise of nazi germany and the maintenance of the increasing power of the british empire; arguably a multi-polar period
  • 1945-1990 :
  • USA and USSR - the cold war period when the capitalist USA and teh communist USSR squared up to each toher for global domination
  • 1990 - 2010:
  • USA - following the collapse of the USSR and eastern european communist states in the early 1990's, the USA has beconme the only true superpower ( sometimes called a 'hyperpower')
  • 2010-_____ :
  • USA, EU and China- many observers think the future will be multi-polar, with many superpowers, possibly including India and Russia, jostling for power
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  • Energy resources  : russia has huge oil and gas resources, giving it economic power and 'energy weapons'. The gulf states have vast oil and gas resources
  • Alliances : EU growth from 6 countries in 1957 to an economic and political alliance of 27 in 2009. EU GDP exceeds that of the USA
  • Economic power : Chinas phenominal growth since 1990 has propelled it to become the thirs largest economy and turned it into the worlds manufacturing workshop
  • Demographic weight : some countries have economic potential because they are 'demographic superpowers' - China and India both have over 15% of global population and huge market potential
  • Nuclear weapons - give countries power because they represent the ultimate threat. The USA , Russia, china, France and UK  all poses them. these countries are recognised *** nuclear states under the treaty on the non-proliferation of Nuclear weapons. Pakistan, india, isreal and north korea are not signatories to the treaty but have nuclear weapons
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Theories explaining superpower status - Liberal

The take off model - Rostow - 

  • economic development is a linear , 5 stage process
  • countries 'take off' and develop when pre-conditions are met, such a transport infrastructure
  • industrialisation follows
  • many countries have borrowed heavily and invested money into projects to meet rostows pre-conditions, yet failed to develop and instead ended up in debt 

The Asian model - world bank - 

  • countries like china, south korea and taiwan have developed rapidly since 1970
  • this is because they opened up to fgree trade and foreign investment
  • the state has invested in eductaion and skills development
  • the model fails to take full account of the support and aid provided to some asian countires by the USA during the cold war
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Theories explaining superpower status - Marxist

Dependency theory - Frank - 

  • world is divided into north v south 
  • the developed world keeps the rest of the world in a state of undevelopment, so it can exploit cheap resources
  • Aid, debt and trade patterns continually reinforce the dependency 
  • since the model was put together , RIC's and NIC's have broken out of the north-south divide mould. the theory does not allow for developing countries to ahve a say in their own development

World systems theory - wallerstein - 

  • the world is divide into core, semi-periphery and periphery
  • semi-periphery nations are broadly equivalent to the NICs that developed in 1970s
  • wallerstain recognised that some countries could develop and gain power, showing that wealth and power were fluid not static
  • world systems theory is more of a description of the world than an explanation of it. it does not account for the rise of china and was written during the cold war (bi-polar era)
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western values ?

  • Democracy - 
  • the belief that a developed society is one where everyone has the rights to vote
  • individualism - 
  • the belief that individuals should have the right to pursue their own actions and dreams 
  • consumerism - 
  • the belief that wealth, and the ability to buy goods and services, leads to happiness
  • technology - 
  • the belief taht problems can be solved by using technology, especially high-end technology
  • economic freedom- 
  • the belief that markers should be free, and people should be at liberty to make money how they chose
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  • 5 trade flows accounted for 63.7% of all world trdae in goods in 2007
  • Africa accounted for just over 2% of all world trade in goods in 2007, versus over 40% for europe
  • most TNCs originate in rich,developed countries
  • most major companiues and airlines originate in the USA nad europe
  • many developed countries allow free trade between each other
  • china is now a major export of manufactured goods
  • india has moved into IT and software exports
  • Russia and gulf states use oil and gas 
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  • brazil, russia , china and india

the emerging powers benefit from economic growth :

  • in china, 200 million people moved out of poverty between 1990 and 2005
  • indias middle class has swelled to over 300 million
  • in brazil the number of households with an income of US$5,900-22,000 grew from 14.3 to 22.3 million between 200 and 2005 and households earning under US$3,000 fell by 1.3 million

a world of BRIC consumers is likely to be one of strained resources and environemtnal issues/concerns

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out with the old, in with the new?

resources :

  • as supplies of fossil fuels and rare materials such as metals begin to tighten due to increasing demand and a shrinking resource base, countries may find themselves in a bidding war to claim resources

military dominance:

  • three of the BIRCS are now nuclear powers and this could increasingly shift the balance of military might towards asia

Space :

  • once the presevere of USSR, USA and european space agency, both china and india have active, well-funded manned space programmes to explore the final frontier
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out with the old, in with the new?


india has benefited from software and IT outsourcing, and china from gloabl shift in manufacturing. if this continues and expands, jobs and prosperity in the west coould be eroded

Ageing :

japan and much of the EU have increasingly ageing populations and face a pension funsing crisis. there is also a problem for china and russia. India and brazil are much more youthful, and potentially innovative. the emerging powers have government-owned investment funds called sovereign welath fundes. much of the money cones from oil wealth.These funds are used to buy assests aroung the world. 

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