If anyone is interested, I wrote an essay for school regarding the status of the USA as a global Superpower. It's very informative, and while it is written in an exam style, it still has up to date information.
Describe the geographical influence of the USA, reemphasising why the USA is a superpower. Provide maps/articles/diagrams/cartoons of: geographical factors, demographic factors, political factors, economic/financial factors, military strength and culture.
The USA has a massive geographical influence which has been the backbone behind their superpower status (The basic components of superpower stature may be measured along four axes of power: military, economic, political, and cultural). USA became an independent country when it broke away from the British Empire in 1776 and since then it has grown, easily surpassing Britain in almost every criterion required for superpower status. The USA consists of 50 states making up a total of 9,826,675 sq km – the third largest country in the world. To put it into comparison, the USA is double the size of the entire European Union.
Currently the USA has a population of 310million – 67% of whom are of the legal age to work. It has one of the highest populations in the world, with 1 in 6 of those people working in the military. While other countries such as China (population of 1.33 billion) and India (population of 1.17 billion) have superior populations and workforces, USA is still the only true superpower in the world as it has great cultural, military and economic power.
The United States of America is very diverse when it comes to geography. There are deserts, grasslands, mountains, plains, ice and every terrain possible. This gives America a clear advantage as they are able to adapt to things very easily. Their armed forces can be trained to handle any form of terrain as their country itself provides for a perfect training ground for its personnel.
The United States of America is the Third largest country in the world in terms of land area. This gives the USA a clear advantage as they have enough land to sustain themselves comfortably and create a comfortable and powerful situation for themselves. There is no shortage of land to build Airbases, Army garrisons, naval yards etc. Also, there is enough land to sustain military research and development.
The United States of America is situated in North America between Canada and Mexico. On either side it is surrounded by 2 mighty oceans being the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The very location of the USA gives the country a strategic advantage.
One factor which has led to the USA’s superpower status is its military strength. In 2009, the USA accounted for 46.5% of global military spending (712 billion out of 1.531 trillion in current dollars – there are varying statistics (America spends more on its military than the next 12 greatest spenders combined)) – with military influence in almost all areas of possible gain in the world. A huge land army, availability of combat vehicles, and the second largest nuclear armaments arsenal in the world means that the USA is a formidable force to be reckoned with – while a huge army incites fear; it also promotes cooperation between the USA and various countries so they remain on the same side and doesn’t face its wrath – this can create strong trade blocs (intergovernmental agreements, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where regional barriers to trade (tariffs and non-tariff barriers) are reduced or eliminated among the participating areas).
As a comparison, the map below shows world military expenditure - North America currently has the greatest expenditure and other rising superpowers such as China in Asia & Oceana section having a rising military budget. There are currently ~2,453,000 active personnel (infantry) and 884,000 people in reserve in the United States military, forming one of the largest armies in the world; it has the ability to project influence onto other countries as well as to deploy and supply that military, with the backing of the public.
The US has one of the two largest and most advanced air forces in the world. It is also tied with powerful military allies in Western Europe (NATO) with their own nuclear capabilities. Runs a global intelligence network, the CIA, which monitors world affairs – it is a giant database of facts and information about every country in the world. In the USA, the President is the supreme commander of all armed forces. This means that the powers are centralized and not divided in a haphazard way. This means that there is no wastage of time. This ensures political stability at times of war. This stability is required especially in times of quick decision making.
Economically, The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,400 (3rd highest worldwide, following Luxembourg and Norway), and high economic growth. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; with a total of 154million people currently in employment , the US has the 4th largest workforce on the planet. With great economic strength, it has given rise to the superpower status. Huge economies lead to giant amounts of goods and services being imported and exported, especially oil, gas and electricity. US have amongst the highest consumption of these resources in the world and are in need of a constant flow of resources into the country to meet its demands. This high purchasing power has led to an extended influence throughout the world, with a peak of 70% of the world using the US dollar.
The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The country's 104 nuclear reactors produced 799 billion kWh in 2009, over 20% of total electrical output. The USA has a large quantity of resources of minerals, energy resources, metals, and timber, large and modernized farming industry and enormous industrial base. It is home to many large global corporations, such as Nike and Cola (Cocacolonization). Being home to a huge range of the world’s most renowned TNC’s such as McDonalds, it has given America a huge influence in other countries by spreading its tentacles of power into different domains and cultures (McDonaldization for example, which has changed cultures by exposing them to new foods and nodes of thought – (efficiency (going from hungry to full), Calculability (objectives based around sales), Predictability (same service, products and uniform everywhere)).
Americanization is the term outside the U.S. used to describe the influence of the United States on the popular culture, technology, business practices, political techniques or language, of other countries - During the 15 years from 1950 to 1965, American investments in Europe soared by 800% to $13.9 billion for example – American influence meant higher productivity and greater efficiency, promising science and technology would bring prosperity. More generally it promised a new level of modernity and was applied to economic production and consumption. The United States maintain plenty of bases all over the world. The United States maintain bases in the UK, Qatar, Turkey, Italy, Japan and other countries. This ensures their reach in the international arena. Their naval fleets cruise around most of the seas and oceans. US aircraft carriers have been called “19 acres of mobile American soil”. This in itself shows their ability to reach out. The USA has over 730 bases abroad.
Politically, USA is absolutely nothing without its allies. If it weren’t for the support of the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, Canada etc then the USA wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is today. However influential and powerful the USA may look like, they still need the support of its allies and the NATO. The USA looks for strong allies who can back them up when they are needed. They try and strengthen their allies by providing them with weapons, training their forces, strengthening bilateral trade, providing them with aid etc. That way, the allies are also powerful enough to support the United States. The United States uses its influence in the international sphere to intimidate potential adversaries. Their usual tactic is to scare the enemy by showing off their military strengths. They also employ various methods like sanctions, severing of trade relations etc. The United States maintains a very aggressive stance in the international forum. That provides the United States with an edge. They make sure that whatever happens, American interests are in no way violated.