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Power Politics, What Makes A Strong State Essay, Research Paper

Power Politics: What Is A Strong State

What is Power and how does it apply to geography? According to P.J. Taylor (334) “Power is the ability to be successful in a conflict; this maybe overt through force or the threat of force; or covert through non decision-making or structural advantage”. The term power will be used to discuss how the United States can be described as the most dominate hegemony of the past century. Power can also be defined or generalized into many characteristics that describe how a country functions geographically. Power is a major role in political influence. It affects the politics in foreign policy and many other foreign relations as well. Power can intimidate or provoke a country to act in a way they might not act. Power is a major asset that can bring a country to reach its potential. Power can also ruin a country. “Political institutions are the rules that regulate the exercise of power in societies and in the world. When power becomes institutionalized – that is, when rules for the use of power are widely accepted – the holders of power have authority. Without authority to justify it, the exercise of power becomes a test of the raw force that power holders are able to wield, in the face of widespread resistance” (Goldstein). Power holders in the political sphere almost always want their use of power to be viewed as legitimate which means that they work to institutionalize their power they want to make it authoritative. This paper will discuss the types of power that stabilizes as well as propels countries to greatness. The countries shown will possess political or economic power or a combination of the two as shown in the United States of America. The Unites States is a leading country in the world because it has both political and economic power. I will present some of the criteria Modeski used in his model and the cycle he refers to as “Modeski’s Long Cycles of Global Politics”. We will discuss both the political power and economic power of the United States as it establishes global order.

In today’s society a balance of power is necessary. The term balance of power refers to the relatively equal power capabilities of rival states or alliances. The balance of power theory maintains that when one state or alliance increases its power or applies it more aggressively, threatened states will increase their own power in response, often by forming a counter-balancing coalition. Many states will counter any threat to its own security by allying with other threatened states and then increasing their own military capabilities. A state’s power is derived from the size of its landmass, population, and its level of technology. This potential powers measured into military capability. The effective use of military force depends on such elements as leadership, morale, geography, and luck. The balance of power is extremely important in international relations; it can distinguish between good friendly relations and war. Throughout history, power balancing is a common principle. For example, “In the 17th century the Habsburg dynasty, which rules Austria and Spain, threatened to dominate Europe. During the Thirty Years war, a coalition that included Sweden, Britain, France, and the Netherlands defeated the rulers of the Habsburg empire” (Encarta). Alliances are important to help smaller states defend themselves from aggressive states looking to control others. Though these alliances many states came together and created their own states.

In today’s world, national governments have the major power within the territories under their control. Without the assent of the government, no corporation could prosper. “State institutions differ from other institutions in a society (such as educational institutions or religious institutions) in several ways”(Goldstein). The political rule through which a government operates is monopolistic. They require compliance, and they tolerate no strong competition, hence being monopolistic. A government will use force, if necessary, to secure the abiding of the rules they enforce, and withdrawing from the oversight of governmental bodies is difficult. You can change many other aspects of life, but you are unable to change governments. Looking at the United States (US); we can see a power that has been developed. This country according to Modeski is the state that has the most influence in the world today. The question that remains is “How did this country rise to power?’ In this next section there is a brief history of the US, followed by the factors that brought this colony into the world’s spotlight. The Unites states consists of an area 3,696,000 sq. miles (9,573,000 sq. km. Its population currently is 263,300,000. The English colonized this state in the 1600s. In 1776, the 13 American colonies won independence from England. The new nation now began to expand west word. After a civil war from 1861 – 65 the state was unified as a whole. Then the late 19th century brought industrialization to the Northeast and Midwest, attracting millions of European immigrants. The United States entered into World War I in 1917. “Many observers interpreted the First World War as the inevitable culmination of realist thinking in international relations. Realism was interpreted as representing the Old World’s way of conducting international affairs. The entry of the United States into the war signaled the entry of idealism into international relations as the New World’s way of organizing affairs of state.” (Taylor p.52). The United States was now considered a world power. They initiated a process that would prevent a World War from happening again. This was to “control power by means of the collective action of our states” (Taylor p.52). The product of this was the League of Nations. This also brought about the term geopolitics. Mackinder has indicated that Geopolitics was a part of the realist tradition of internationional relations. The United States was dealing with change as idealists with Bowmans world survey and realism being expunged from political geography (Taylor p.53) After 1918 the world and the United States experienced a surge of growth. This became known as the Roaring Twenties. Economic growth was fast and uncontrollable which eventually led to disaster. The stock market crashed in 1929 and the world was to experience 10 years of depression. The new power experienced by a surging United States disappeared quickly, as the world was unable to pull itself out of the depression. The United States needed to revitalize its industry and it was widely considered that World War II helped increase and revitalize the United States economy. The United States entered the war in 1941 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The war ended in 1945 after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The war allowed industry in the United States to surge. This beginning of economic growth would lead to economic power and political control of its allies. The United States was a democracy and believed in the free market economy. This type of economy allowed entrepreneurship and the profit went to the industrialists or developers. Social programs were instituted and supported by tax base that was collected from all the people. (Higgins)

This contrasted sharply with the Soviet Union, which had a centrally planned economy. Everyone shared in the profits and you had two classes of people. The rich (very few) and the poor. After the war, conflicts arose between the major powers as to how the spoils would be divided and what type of government they would have. A cold war developed between the United States and the Soviet Union. They both believed their form of government was best. A nuclear arms race began in both countries and continued until the mid 1980’s when communist idealism fell and democracy prevailed. The US economy is the cornerstone of its power. For example the United States per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $25,850 is one of the highest in the industrialized world. The American citizens have a high quality of life, exceptional public health care and exceptional education levels. This compared to a much lower GDP in the Soviet Union with both poor public health and education opportunities. If we look at Modelski’s model it will show how the United States is changing. Modelski believes that powerful states with go through stages birth/ introduction, growth/ expansion, exercised influence and finally old age where they are succeeded. In Modelski’s words he describes his long cycles of global politics as “First there is the urge to make global order. Once the possibilities of a global order became known an innate will for power becomes expressed as an urge to shape world-order. Only a few people may have such a world outlook, but they respond to the inarticulate needs of the many. Second, the nature of international politics as a system means that structures run down and have to be

reconstructed. All systems suffer a loss of order and survive by cyclical development.” Countries that have risen to power usually only last about a century. The countries that have dominated over the past 5 hundred years as described in the text are Portugal, The Netherlands and Britain. Britain was an exception to Modelski’s model because this states was able to gain power and influence the world for over 2 centuries. When Britain finally reached its stage of decline it was succeeded by a country from the New World. The World Wars made the transition of power from Britain to the United States easy. This was because Britain and many of the former super powers of the world had become temporarily cripple. The damage they had sustained from the war was only one of the many problems. The states also suffered resource depletion and the overwhelming expenditure that was used to purchase the materials needed to sustain their armies. The United States did build industry and was not devastated by bombs, as were many of the European Countries. This is how the United States became a super power. This is the time when the rest of the world recognized that the United States and this New World had the ability to control the world’s affairs. The United States was now the most powerful nation in the world and could control worldwide political and economic activity. The United States grew in industry and power as it was propelled through industry, mass production, robotics, mechanization and now computerization. In today’s news we are able to find recent events that show the political, economic and a combination of the two as the US influences other nations with its “Power”. Article I (political)

Is it possible that the United States could determine who the candidates and the eventual “top man” that will lead the International Monitory Fund? This is the fund that will be used for financial assistance for all the countries throughout the world. In an article in Saturdays Record it indicates that the US opposes IMF candidate. The United States indicated in that article that the next leader me be. “Somebody who can do what needs to be done to institute reform.”

It seems the US is making moves to control the IMF. See Article 1 Appendix A Article II (economical) A United States company is controlling your playstation that is being built in Singapore. They are now developing a product that will allow you to have sent with your video games. This shows how the United States is able to build this computer chip in Singapore. Cheep cost to build and cheep labor but highly economic to sell at 500 time the actual cost. See Article 3 Appendix A,2

Article III (political and economic) In order to control the Kosovo’s the United States was instrumental in bombing Kosovo in a “78 day bombing campaign that forced an end to the Serbian crackdown on Albanian separatism in Kosovo and the pullout of Albanian forces.” Now the NATO troop controlled by the United States are rebuilding parts of Kosovo to begin the re-establishment of economic activity. Many activities such as this are disguised as being from organizations such as NATO – but in actual fact are US military activities.

Article 2 Appendix A In conclusion the political rules through which the United States government operates is monopolistic. They require compliance, and they tolerate no strong competition, hence being monopolistic. United States will use force, if necessary, and has in the past to secure the abiding of the rules they enforce. This was shown in article 3. If you are a supporter of the United States you are able to receive funds from the IMF and protection from NATO. If you do not abide you could be ostracized from the rest of the world and have trade embargoes placed on you (Iran). This is both political and economic power. What are the some of the sources of the United States power? There is social power, which tends to be centered in family relationships but can be broadened a circle of people in which a person has influence. Social power is obviously limited in scope. There is an allegiance to the United States and an attitude that they are the best in the world. They may be and this is a form of social power. The United States is also able to influence the world through the media. They show their military might as seen in the Gulf War. This military might provides a means to acquire and hold power. It is usually a dominating factor in authoritarian societies, and also one that is predominant in many other countries as well. Most large countries have military forces, as do many small ones, and nearly all of them spend very large sums of money to equip and maintain their military sectors. Which is where the threat of power comes from. Lastly – The Power of Politics. “There are economic laws, but there are political guns. Pure force has a way of changing the way laws are applied, even economic ones. Ultimately, then, a country’s economic system requires political approval to survive and flourish” (Goldstein). In this sense, politics and the force that wields it are the final word, and always have the potential to dominate both the economic and social spheres.

The United States is now the most powerful nation in the world. it has the political power to influence other countries. It has the economic structure to supply a war machine that is second to none. Lastly it has a currency that every other country compares itself to. Taking all that into consideration I can now say – If you have the power you can influence any country any way you with. The United States has the power.


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