In the modern world it is difficult to determine the extent of the United States power in the world. There is no doubt; the United States has a powerful military with modern sophisticated weapons. The United States economy is much larger compared to other economies of the world commanding a big percentage of the global markets. Moreover, the United States culture and tradition have spread all over the world with movies and television programs being watched in all parts of the world.
This has leads to the description of United States as the world super power . However, it is not clear what the United States is capable of accomplishing in the world if it vast resources as well as global influence is considered. The extent of its powers is therefore difficult to estimate. Some scholars have described a superpower as a country that presently has the means and abilities to be good and make global impacts on the globe today and in the future. Power is not therefore the amount of energy spent but the results of the energy expenditure.
This has resulted into criticism that the United States is not as powerful as the world society may think. These scholars have considered the United States as a less superpower. Their arguments are based on the fact that the United States military for example has been overstretched by the occupation of weak countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the last one decade . Moreover, the American economy has been in the recent past threatened by collapse due to external debts.
The future of the American economy lies on the hands of the Chinese who are the major strategic rivals to the supremacy of the United States. The economy is also faced with massive internal debts as a result of the increased cost of the war in the Middle East. The United States foreign policies are also becoming insignificant with time such as the weapon of mass destruction policies. For example the Bush administration fruitlessly searched for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then sifted their effort to North Korea which has also been fruitless.
United States as a Superpower The United States is relatively larger that all countries in the world except Russia. It is slightly bigger that China and Brazil and almost half the size of Russia. Being big economically, politically, geographically and militarily has been the dream of the Americans. That explains why the Americans have a thing about big cars, big houses. The American economy has been outstanding throughout the modern history thought not without challenges.
The political systems have also been stable over the years with very effective check and balances which has resulted into a model political system. Nonetheless, political evils such as corruption and other scandals such as the Watergate scandal have been persistent in the American political systems just like any other system in the world . In the early 19th century, the United States made several attempts to expand its borders towards Canada but this proved impossible because of the resistance from the Canadian and British army.
Although the British army seemed too occupied to attach the United States in the 1812 war, the American’s violence did not end. They were involved in wars throughout the 19th century with major war occurring after every ten to fifteen years. One of the most significant wars in the history of America was the American Civil War that took place in the 1860’s. this led to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery which was pronounce in the southern states after the defeat off the confederation army by the union army.
The African Americans who were considered second class citizens were also granted their basic right as American citizens such as the right to vote and own property. Since then, the United States has played a major role in the world’s affairs. In the First World War, the US government thought that the issue at hand was a European problem and therefore sought to play a neutral role. However, it participation in the war became inevitable when the American economic interest in Europe were threatened.
Several American merchant ships were sunk on their way to Europe which forced the United States to fight back. Although the United States entered the war at the last minute, it entry proved a point. The fate of the war changed after the American resources were used deployed against the Germans and their allies which led to their defeat . Though the United States remained reluctant from being involved with the affairs of the European continent, the victory of the First World War was their although it was mainly fought in Europe.
Although America was a major power in the world following the events of the First World War, it did not approve the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919 which led to the establishment of the League of Nations and formed the basis on which the United Nation was established several years later. Following the First World War, the economy of the United States was performing excellently following the economic advancement that took place in the 1920’s such introduction of division of labor in mass production and the development of transport and communication.
However, the economical prosperity and power of the American was threatened by the great depression which led to the collapse of financial systems, increased debts and high rate of unemployment. However, Roosevelt policies and interventions saved the America economy. The government interevention introduced rules in the leading of money as well as in the stock markets . Although by the time the Second World War broke out the American economy had recovered from the adverse effect of the great depression, a good number of Americans continued to life in poverty.
The American government used the outbreak of the war to leap the maximum economically and rise back to an economic superpower. The American administration decided to stay neutral in the war and make the maximum profits out of it. However, they were forced to take change their neutral stand and enter the war after the Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941. The war had positive impacts on the American economy due to the increased capital investment, creation of employment opportunity and entry of women into the job market .
Although the American government was able to make massive profits from the war and revive their economy, the war is considered to have been the most expensive in the history of the United States. Again, the United States claims the victory of the Second World War. The attack of Hiroshima and Nagasaki using nuclear weapons by the Americans marked the end of the war since Japan surrender days after the attack. The use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese was a major turning point for the Americans as a super power after the end of the war.
This is because it was impossible for the United States army to defeat the well developed Japanese army in a war that had proved to be very expensive to the United States. The nuclear weapons did not only win the Second World War form the Americans but also protected their military and financial prosperity in the world. Following the success of the Americans in the Second World War, their confidence in the world affair was increased which has led to the dropping of the isolationism traditions. The United States started involving itself not only in the European affairs but also global affairs.
As a result, it played an important role in the formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pack. The role of America as a world superpower in the second half of the twentieth century become more evident in the cold war as a result of increased threat from the communist countries such as the Soviet Union, China and their satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Southern and Caribbean countries. Capitalism in the American economy and its allies against socialism in the communist countries was the main economic philosophical issues in the cold war .
The two economic philosophies created rivalry over political and economic supremacy between the then world superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. This resulted into development of sophisticated nuclear weapons in anticipation for a war as well as competition in space exploration. At the end, the anticipated war between the capitalism powers and the communism powers never happened. In 1950’s, though the United Military and the NATO had developed sophisticated weapons, they had not developed the long range ICBMs which are important military gargets today.
They therefore relied in bomber airplanes which were used to drop bombs. Their military rivals had developed high spend bombers and there was a need to develop fighters that could reach the speed of the Russian bombers if their military had to remain significant in the world. However, the Canadians had the prospects of developing such fighters but their ambitions were shot down by the American since they feared that the ideas could be traded to the Russians by the communist Canadians .
The increased supremacy of the US military led to the involvement of United States in the Indochina war especially the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was a war against communism which had turned flaw. The war escalated in a way that the administrators in America did not expect when the decided to give military support to the capitalistic leadership in South Vietnam. As the need for more American troops increased, the war became more difficult for the American soldiers partly due to the inadequate training in guerrilla war tactics and lack of cooperation from the Vietnamese allies.
The fate of the war was not certain as the Americans started protesting against the war. President Nixon and his administration were strongly challenged by the events of the Vietnam War and used all means such as the ‘war on drugs’ to divert the attention of the public . Despite the superiority, economically, politically and militarily, that the United States enjoyed in the last half a century, it has been hit but several crisis but has been able to come out of them. This includes the energy crisis in the 1970’s which almost brought the prosperity of United States down.
These crises was as a result of some Arab countries who are the major suppliers of oil in the world vowed to stop their fuel supplies to all countries that had formed allies with Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Due to the dependence of the United States economy on fossil fuel and the large command of the Arab countries on the supplies, the fuel prices rose abruptly resulting into a fuel crisis. Other fuel crisis occurred during the Iranian revolution and the gulf war which almost brought the American prosperity and power into its knees.
It is clear that the interests of the United States in Middle East are closely related to it prosperity. The leadership in America has for along time been aware that if the American supremacy has to be maintained, there must be good relationship between the United States and the leadership in Middle East. This is due to the reliance of the massive American economy on oil from the region. The flourishing socioeconomic in the United States is powered by fuels from the Middle East.
However, the Soviet Union has had interests in the region for many years. This has led into series of collision of the two super powers in the region. For example in order to protect the interests of the United States in Middle East and as a cold war strategy to undermine Soviet Union in Middle East, the United States government trained Mujahideen in Afghanistan which led to the withdrawal of the Soviet army from the country in 1989 and consequently the collapse of the Soviet Union leaving the united states as the only superpower .
The American interests in the Middle East to protect their superiority have exhibited their military powers which can not be compared to any other countries. This is clearly displayed in the gulf war which protected the American economy from the plans to cut out the supply of oil from Kuwait by the Iraq government . The last decade of the 20th century ushered in a period of economic prosperity and expansion of the United States into the largest economy in the world history. The same period was marked with increased Islamic insurgencies and terrorist groups who were uncomfortable with the American prosperity in the world .
The Islamic insurgences were concerned about the spread of the American culture and ideologies as well as its control over the world economy including the oil resources in the Middle East. The series of bombing by terrorists in the last decade of the 20th century and the famous 9/11 attack is believed to be a protest by the Islamic terrorists against the increased influence of the American in the world especially the middle east politics. Following the 9/11 attack by terrorists, the war against terrorism become a major aspect of the Bush administration foreign policies.
These policies preempted military actions against the nations determined to suppress the United States superpower status. These policies which were based on the Wolfowitz Doctrines led to the attack of all nations in the Middle East that were considered a threat to the American interests. These countries included Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran. The United States used it military superiority and political powers in the globe to impose changes in regime in this countries to protect their interests.
However, this war against terrorism had the potential of creating more enemies as well as friends but Bush administration was very confident of the military and economic power of the country to push his agendas forward . The powers of the United States on the world affairs were exhibited in the war against terrorisms and attack on Afghanistan and Iraq when the United Nations Security Council as well as NATO approved the Bush administration decision. This is a clear indication of the significance of the United States in the United Nations and NATO decision making process.
It is therefore very unlikely that these international bodies will go against the wish of the United States. Due to the role of the Americans in the world affairs, many countries around the world supported the American decision which included Britain, Japan and Canada among others. Based on the abilities and powers of the United States, these countries could not have risked going against them. However, some countries were reluctant about providing military support due to fear of terrorist attack.
Challenges of United States as a superpower One factor that has ensure that the united states remain the most powerful nation in the world is the subsidies in agricultural production which has made agriculture to flourish in the country. This has kept the prices of food low over the years making it affordable and plentiful relative to other parts of the world. This has helped in the rapid growth of the economy majority of the people are not worried of what they will eat and can spend their money elsewhere.
However, the increased costs of fuels over the past few years, changes in climatic conditions and unpredictable weather and competition from the Asian countries in the textile industry have negatively affected agriculture in United States . The United States as an economic superpower has been faced with a lot of competition especially from the Asian economies such as China which have been developing rapidly in the last few years . A very good example is the inability of the automobile manufacturers in the United States to cope with the intense competition from Japanese automobile industries.
Big companies such as the General Motors which are major players in the American economy have been faced with collapse in the last few years. This competition has reduced the production capacity of the American industries leading to losses of jobs. The collapsing automobile industry is one of the problems that have threatened the economic powers of the United States. The manufacturing industry has been hurt hard by this competition which has forced some if the major manufacturers to shift their factors of production to other countries in order to remain significant in the market .
It is estimated that the manufacturing and construction sectors of the economy are losing close to one million jobs a year due to the effects of the current credit crisis. The fall of the construction and manufacturing sectors have large effects on the consumers behavior since many of the Americans have no money to spend. The reduced consumer spending has negatively affected the economy leading to further job losses. This is as a direct impact of the increased competition on American product from the cheaper products from developing superpowers in the east.
To save American economy from take over by the Chinese economy as the superpower, the American government may be forced to withdraw from some trade agreements and raise tariffs on some goods from Asia to reduce competition. However, this may not automatically deter the increased economic powers in the east since such measures will negatively affect the mining and wood industry in the United States. However, the biggest fear of the Americans is how the Chinese are determined to be the next economic superpowers in the world considering that fact that they have the numbers and access to technological advancement .
It is important to note that today, the United States economy has an imbalance of trade with the Asian countries especially China. As the Chinese continue to flood the American market with cheaper consumer products, the trade imbalance with China is approaching three hundred billion dollars. However, the big question has always been whether the United States will be able to resist the challenges of the modern economy or its supremacy will be taken over by the Asian economies .
Since the onset of the war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US federal Budget has been faced with increased deficits. This has been as a result of the escalated cost of the war and the economic crisis facing the world. For the first time in the American history, the budgetary deficit approached 490 billion dollars in 2008. This deficit is very relevant to the economy because it accounts for about three percent of the economy.
This money must be borrowed from international banks and corporations mainly from the American economic rivals in Asia, the Chinese and the Japanese . There are also increased economic scandals in the country such as the Enron and WorldCom scandals which lowers the confidence of investor in the country. These scandals lead to loss of jobs and lifetime savings due to fraudulent economic practices. Some organizations such as the WorldCom was rated the biggest telecommunication company in the world until the scandal was revealed on how its value was inflated.
The private health insurance program in the United States is also a big challenge that threatens the American economy. This is because the program seeks to make profit first while the health of the Americans comes second. This has resulted into endless problems related to the healthcare systems . Other economic problems such as increased fuel prices, high inflation and interest rate, the weakening dollar and interstate migration has been a challenge to the United States status of the most powerful nation in the world.
Conclusion There are many historical evidences that indicates that the United States has been the most powerful country in the world over the last one or so century. It is widely believed that though the United States worn both the First and the Second World War. Over the years the country has enjoyed military and economic superiority. However, it economic superiority has been faced with a lot of challenges from fast developing economies in Asia.