So after a long wait of almost 20 hours, I bring you GPP’s first Great Power Top Ten List! Great powers have come to their position of power slowly and have generally left their esteemed place in international politics in a similar fashion, so how can one do a monthly Great Power – Power Ranking system, one may ask? Long term prognosticating will of course be an important aspect of GPP’s rankings, but short term moves, issues, and strategic successes and failures will also be considered. For instance, if I did a power ranking after Russia’s successful invasion of Georgia, which proved Moscow’s hard power was not only still capable, but willing to be used, Russia would have gotten a ‘bump up’ in my rankings. This list is not exhaustive and is of course open for debate and even your own Top Ten. I think this is an exciting time for Great Power Politics as many claim the US is declining as a superpower, there is much focus on the Rising Powers of China, India, Brazil, and older great powers, such as Russia and Iran, are starting to reassert themselves on the global stage.
Here are some of the major criteria for which the states will be considered as Great Powers:
- Power – Basically, how much total influence does your state have in the world. In what ways can your state make other states or actors do something that they don’t necessarily want to do?
- Economy – What is your GDP? Is your economy growing? Declining? (aren’t they all right now?) How much can your economic power be easily translated into ways to influence other actors?
- Permanent/Near Permanent Resources – natural resources controlled, population size, geography
- Ideology/Cultural – How powerful is your state’s governing and lifestyle philosophy in the world? Do your beliefs and ideas translate to influence around the globe?
- Internal State Strength – How strong and legitimate is your domestic government? How stable?
It is time. Below are my Top Ten Great Power Rankings, followed by a Tier breakdown, with short explanations to follow:
- United States of America
Tier A – USA
Tier B – China, Russia
Tier C – Germany, Japan
Tier D – India
Tier E – Brazil, France, Turkey, Israel
2. China – The greatest challenger to US supremacy (and for the top spot on GPP’s Rankings!) for this century is the Middle Kingdom. China’s economy has been booming for nearly 20 years now and though it is facing many hardships during this financial crisis, it is still in relatively good economic shape. In the last few years, Beijing has bought up resources and influence throughout the world, especially in Central Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Militarily, China is still relatively weak, but its defensive spending has expanded every year and it is starting to present itself as a regional power player. China’s internal governance, ruled by the Communist Party, though well disciplined and organized, faces social unrest and is challenged by two separatist movements, Tibet and Xinjiang.
3. Russia – Moscow has been a great power on and off for centuries and though it is currently struggling economically, this has not hurt its ability to effect world events. As the Georgia invasion, Kyrgyzstan Manas Base extraction, and NATO expansion/Missile Shield protests have shown. Moscow is an old fashioned great power as it unabashedly showcases its willingness to use hard power (including cyberwarfare and gas politics). Though the Putin-Medvedev rule is challenged on many fronts, it is nevertheless a strong government with a decent amount of legitimacy from its population.
4-5. Japan and Germany – These two WWII allies have the 3rd and 4th strongest economies in the world and though their military capabilities are rather weak (thanks to US protection and internal preferences) they each could translate this soft, economic power into hard power in a short time, ie. Japan’s nuclear capability. Lastly, their domestic governments are strong and have high legitimacy at home and abroad.
6-7. India and Brazil – These two geographic and population giants are both experiencing strong economic growth and are definitely two ‘up and comers’ in the great power game.
8. France – Strong, if not large economy. Great power history. Though somewhat weak militarily, Paris does hold multiple nuclear weapons and uses diplomacy effectively to spread its influence around the world.
9. Turkey – Turkey is a real ‘middling’ power. It has decent influence and power in two continents and a strong historical legacy as a great power. Domestic stability and governance has been its achilles heel in the past, but it seems to be weathering that storm rather well in recent years. Ankara’s economic growth has been slow and steady.
10. Israel – Though it is small in population, economy, and geography, the Jewish state has a tremendous amount of influence in the Middle East and a strategic partnership with No. 1 USA. Israel is in a precarious, to say the least, security situation, but its military, which includes nuclear weapons, is second to none in the region.
Your thoughts? Your Rankings?