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Posts Tagged ‘great powers’

20
Dec

GPP Power Rankings #4

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Latin America, Russia   Print Print

Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year would not be complete without a little GPP Great Power Rankings would it!?! The last rankings created quite a bit of discussion and I look forward to even more this time around. There have been a couple slight movements in the actual rankings, but many of these great powers have shown to either be trending upward or downward. As I stated before I released my first rankings; ‘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.’ Let’s get to it!

Here are the criteria in which the great powers are measured:

  • 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? 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:

  1. United States of America 
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. Japan
  5. Germany
  6. India
  7. Brazil
  8. France
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Turkey
On the GP Bubble -  Iran,  Israel
Tier A – USA

Tier B – China

Tier C - Russia, Germany, Japan

Tier D – India

Tier E – Brazil, France, Turkey, United Kingdom

1. USA – It has been an interesting few months, isn’t it always, for the USA. The recession appears over for good, but in many ways the damage has been done. The unemployment rate is still above 10% and the government’s debt is reaching ridiculous levels. Economist Niall Ferguson persuasively has argued that unless the US starts to tackle this debt problem, it will face constraining budgetary options for decades to come. This can affect the United States’ superpower status by forcing it to reduce its role in the world. For example, if interest rates on our debt keep eating a fair amount of our federal budget, we may not be able to maintain a base or two in East Asia or to provide financial aid to an ally in trouble. Or it could force the US to continue to fall behind in the space race. However, things are not all gloom and doom for America. After all, its economy is growing again, its relationship with rising India has taken a positive step in military matters, and its arms sales still dwarf the competition. Concerning the last item, the numbers are overwhelming. In the last year, the US has made weapons agreements totaling more than $37 billion dollars. Not impressed? Second place was Italy…..at $3.7 billion.

2. China – This was a strong few months for China’s great power status. First off, the President of the United States paid the country a visit and by looking at the lack of results for the US side, the orchestrated visits and speeches, and the delicate manner that Obama treated the host government, one could appropriately ponder ‘just who is the superpower here?’ The United States did not come back with progress on any of these fronts; North Korea and Iranian nuclear programs, currency manipulation, emissions, human rights, etc. The Communist government also stuck out its chest with an extensive, ostentatious military parade, followed by exercises, through the streets of Beijing celebrating 60 years of its rule. Of course, the fact that the government had to have security so tight for the parade that most citizens were forced to stay in their homes and watch from their windows also showcases a government with a political legitimacy weakness. Lastly, the lack of progress on any type of climate binding agreement in Copenhagen was a clear sign that China will not be pushed around, even with tremendous pressure coming from the EU and United States. China’s influence on more and more matters that effect people and states around the globe is becoming more apparent everyday.

3. Russia – Pretty much in a holding pattern from the last rankings, but I have decided to move them into a lower tier than China. The Russians have been getting closer to Venezuela, keeping sanctions against Iran at bay, sending nuclear submarines off the US east coast, likely to ensure an advantageous new START agreement with the Obama administration, and still has the buffest leader in these great power rankings.

4. Japan – Japan is definitely a country in transition. The Democratic Party of Japan has started what will no doubt be a consequential first period in power. It is still too early to tell how much the DPJ will change Japan’s role in foreign affairs from the LDP’s long standing American centered one. President Obama’s stop in Japan was rather uneventful, with both choosing to put off the most contentious part in the relationship, the placement of American military bases in Okinawa, for a year. Just like most state governments right now, the DPJ are spending most of their attention on the rebuilding the domestic economy. In this regard, one writer sees a culturally and economically stagnant Tokyo, calling it ‘a middle-aged man contemplating his afternoon nap.’ But on the bright side, Japan has their first aircraft carrier since World War II, well kind of.

5. Germany – Political and economic structure still look very stable compared to Japan. The country’s role in Afghanistan is a constant challenge for its government and citizens.

6. India – On the one hand, India is a clear winner in the US decision to stay and help build up the Afghan state. India has been quietly working to strengthen the Karzai government as it is considered innumerably more friendly than a Taliban-controlled Afghan state. India has also upped its defense spending by 10% this year, though this is still far below China’s estimated build up, and as was alluded to earlier, India and the United States partnered up for what was called a ‘massive‘ war game, though details were hard to come by. But for this rankings, I have to give India a dropping ranking. This decision mainly has to do with Mumbai terrorist attacks from last year. How does an attack from last year hurt India’s place in the rankings today? Well, I watched the CNN Fareed Zakaria documentary of the attack and lets just say, the Indian police and government did not show themselves well. Mumbai is one of India’s most vibrant and important cities and it was basically taken hostage by a group of terrorists. The police reaction, both local and federal, was shown to be pathetically incompetent. Great powers need to first be able to protect their own homeland before they can really expand their influence around the globe.

7. Brazil – One would think that in a period when they won the 2016 Olympics over many other worthy applicants, I would have Brazil trending upward, but this is not the case. The Olympic victory definitely is an opportunity for Brazil to show it has arrived on the global stage, but it has also shone light on other less flattering facets of the country. The massive blackouts it had last month show that like the Mumbai terrorist attack, the garnering more of the world’s attention isn’t always for the better. Jose Cardenas also voices some reservations regarding recent Brazilian efforts in regional and world affairs: ‘Brazil aspires to be a global leader deserving of a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. But it stumbled badly on Honduras. It moved quickly to denounce the removal of Zelaya and led the regional charge for Honduras’s isolation, but in the end failed to influence the course of events. More egregious, however, was allowing the fugitive Zelaya to re-enter the country and set up shop in its embassy in Tegucigalpa, inflaming an already dangerous situation. Which raises the question, if Brazil can’t even responsibly manage a crisis in tiny Honduras, how does it propose to influence Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?’

8. FranceRien à dire ici

9. United Kingdom – I have listened to the comments of my GPP readers and they have shown me the light on the UK. And that light shines on a sign that says in a powerful, echoing voice, ‘Move the UK above Turkey!’. The long term influence of this medium-sized island has been monumental for centuries and though its capacity to affect world events and actors has faltered greatly in past decades, its cultural and political influence continues to show itself. Like the United States, it has also shown an ability to live in a realist world, where military power still matters, and in a liberal internationalist world, where democracy, multilateral institutions, and economic connections lead the way. The only problem now is that France and the UK are right next to each other in the rankings. Can they get along?

10. Turkey – The Islamist AK party, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ruling Turkey appears to be strategically turning to the East and closer to the Muslim world. While relations with the EU and Israel are on the decline, Turkey’s ties with Syria, Iran, Sudan, and China are growing stronger. Now geography is destiny so one shouldn’t blame Turkey for trying to foster stable, productive relationships with its neighbors, but Ankara must be careful not to seriously damage decades of growing good will with Europe and the United States. Though this is likely just a passing phase, it will be well worth watching closely in the next year.

Comments? Critiques? Questions? Praises!?!

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10
Aug

Canada: Is the Great White North a Great Power?

   Posted by: Pat    in Uncategorized   Print Print

Good question Mr. Frost.  Canada is stable, prosperous, and still has one Major League Baseball team, but  concerning our GPP Great Power criteria, it does not really fit into the club.  Let us go over the land of the jeans’s great power resume…

  • Power -Canada’s military has served bravely and competently in several conflicts, with D-Day and Afghanistan being the first to come to mind.  The maple leaf capitol of the world also is a major participator in several UN peace keeping missions and an important member of NATO.  However, the sparsely populated nation only fields an armed forces of approximately 85,000 troops and will likely leave the Afghanistan theater next year.
  • Economy -Canada’s GDP has been slipping of late (.5% in May) as it continues to struggle along with most other national economies to recover from the global recession.  It has not helped that the nation’s number one trading partner, the United States, has been a key player in the financial crisis and continues to have negative economic growth itself.  This being said, Canada is a prosperous nation with a high standard of living and is a valued member of the G8 and OECD.
  • Permanent/Near Permanent Resources -The Great White North is home to a large landmass, but small population, with the latter keeping the nation from really threatening to become a great power.  The state is the 2nd largest on the globe, but only has a population of around 33 million.  In terms of security and natural resources, Canada’s geographic position is very blessed.  The state is a major producer of oil, natural gas, zinc, uranium, and lumber and in terms of safe borders, it has few peers as it’s only neighbor is a very friendly superpower.
  • Ideology/Cultural – America Junior may not be as vocal and aggressive in spreading its beliefs in liberty, democracy, and free markets as its southern neighbor, but it has shown that leading by example can be an effective, albeit moderate, tool in promoting one’s belief/societal/governmental system.  I remember the ever-present presence of the Maple Leaf flag while traveling around Europe in 2004 as these citizens were definitely proud of where they came from.  As for those few Americans who told me to wear the little Canadian flag on my backpack to escape being seen as an American tourist, I gave a curt ‘no thanks’.
  • Internal State Strength -One of Canada’s greatest assets is its very stable and legitimate governing structure and institutions.  The autonomy of Quebec is always an issue, but for the most part Canada’s motto in this regard should be ‘happily, boringly stable’.

So unless the Great White North is either annexed by the United States or somehow doubles its population, it will continue to be an important middle power in international relations.  I’ll leave you with the words of Canadian foreign affairs’ scholar J.L. Granatstein…

Canadians are divided and diverse, unfocused and ordinarily
rudderless, and that is not a recipe for an aspiring great power.

So, we can’t be a superpower. But don’t be too sad. That relieves us
of heavy obligations and great power responsibilities for the
preservation of peace and, when peace collapses, it saves us in all
likelihood from heavy casualties in (some) overseas wars of empire. We
are now what we will continue to be – a developed democratic
nation-state with a high standard of living, and that is no mean
estate.

Canada’s First Couple

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25
Apr

GPP’s Great Power Rankings – 2

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Latin America, Middle East, Russia   Print Print

Here it is folks, GPP’s Second Great Power Rankings! (eardrum shattering cheers) Here is the first one. I will update this list EVERY TWO MONTHS to provide these great powers enough time to tangle and jockey for new positions. Changes from the first list include; the United States and Germany trending down, Israel falling off, and the United Kingdom making it onto the vaunted and acclaimed Top 10. Take a look and then offer your opinion and thoughts in the comment section.

Here are the criteria in which the great powers are measured:

  • 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? 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:

  1. United States of America
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. Japan
  5. Germany
  6. India
  7. Brazil
  8. France
  9. Turkey
  10. United Kingdom
On the GP Bubble –  Iran,  Israel

Tier A – USA

Tier B – China, Russia

Tier C – Germany, Japan

Tier D – India

Tier E – Brazil, France, Turkey, United Kingdom

  1. USA – I have the US down-trending, though oh so slightly, because of several factors: Obama’s apology tours have made the US seem weak, the negative attention surrounding the three water boarding cases, and for the growing violent struggles in key US spheres of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and its inability to garner greater European support for ISAF in Afghansitan. However, President Obama was well-received on his foreign visits to Europe, Turkey, Mexico, and Trinidad & Tobago and a lessening of tensions between the US and Cuba actually has shown some daylight for future relations. Though the US is ‘trending down’ this by no means they are in danger of losing the top spot, as they are still way above No. 2…

  2. China – Looking strong: Effective pocketbook diplomacy in Latin America, Beijing’s hard power also appears strong as its government announced a 15% spike in defense spending for this year, and judging by previous Chinese transparency in this sector, let’s call it a 20% increase. US Defense Secretary described some specifics of the Chinese military threat: “The areas of greatest concern are Chinese investments and growing capabilities in cyber-and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, submarines, and ballistic missiles. Modernization in these areas could threaten America’s primary means of projecting power and helping allies in the Pacific: our bases, air and sea assets, and the networks that support them.”

  3. Russia -Moscow had a decent couple months: returned to semi-cordial relations with NATO, received a delay in the US build up of anti-missile shields in Eastern Europe, made diplomatic overtures to Venezuela and Cuba about an agreement on landing rights, and President Medvedev announced a “large-scale rearming” in 2011. However, the country faces some internal unrest due to the economic downturn. Also of, President Medevdev gave an interview with an ‘unfriendly’ domestic news agency. A sign of openness or change from the Putin’s autocratic past?

  4. Japan – Economy still in trouble and political leadership has yet to find a firm footing, but the island nation did send a small fleet of destroyers to combat the Somali pirates, made a strong, but alas, unsuccessful attempt to punish North Korea’s missile launch at the UN, and of course, most significantly, won the World Baseball Classic.

  5. Germany – Though the Germans have done a stabilizing job keeping many other EU countries economically afloat with assistance and loans in the past couple months, I have them down trending because of their lack of commitment to NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan. With Afghanistan and Pakistan appearing more dangerous and unstable by the day, Germany, the most powerful and rich country in Europe, only offered short-term troops for the ISAF that would most likely participate in no combat duties. Burden sharing anyone?

  6. India – Held the largest truly democratic election in history and did so rather peacefully. We’ll see the election results portend in the very near future. A continual down mark for New Delhi is the worsening stability of its volatile neighbor Pakistan, as Taliban elements are getting closer and closer to Islamabad.

  7. Brazil -Not much to say here: President Lula remains popular and all reports had his meeting with Obama as quite the success.

  8. France -France nearly deserves to be derided for the lack of commitment to NATO’s mission as Germany and their token offer to take one Gitmo prisoner was a (here comes some sarcasm) ‘big help’ and will make a ‘real difference’. However, France’s President Sarkozy stood up for his country’s economic policy stances at the G-20 meeting and was not pushed down by anyone. Sarkozy who appears to be everywhere except for France, made a diplomatic visit to Baghdad in February. I think this was a strong move and helps the Maliki and Iraqi government gain legitimacy at home and abroad. I applaud the move.

  9. Turkey – Ankara received a well-received visit from US President Obama, where he joined President Bush and Clinton in pushing for Turkey’s membership in the EU. Stratfor’s George Friedman asserts that Ankara was Obama’s most important foreign visit on the trip.

  10. United Kingdom – I was convinced by reader comments, the UK’s tremendous great power history, continual military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their hosting of the G-20 Summit to put them on the list. However, their economic troubles (GDP shrunk 2% last 3 months) is extremely troubling and unfortunately they may not be on the list for long. And if they really want to rise above 10, they’re going to need to give up Cricket and pick up a baseball bat by the time the World Baseball Classic begins again.

Comments? Critiques? Praise? For the 2nd GPP Great Power Rankings-Bring it on!

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4
Mar

Great Power Podcast

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Middle East, Russia   Print Print

This past weekend GPP contributer Hubbel Relat and I had a little conversation about GPP’s Great Power Rankings and lucky you, we recorded it!  In the 20 or so minute interview, I discuss my criteria for the rankings and the thinking behind my selections.  Hubbel then goes on to pester me with questions and critiques, some of which you may have thought of yourself or even wrote in the comments section of the earlier post.  Enjoy!

[display_podcast]

During this podcast session, Hubbel and I also recorded a short 10 minute talk on Obama’s Iraq troop withdrawal plan and I will post this in due time, at least before the SOFA agreement comes to its conclusion.  Short podcasts such as this one will hopefully become a regularity and I plan on bringing as many voices and subjects to the exercise as possible.  If you have an idea or subject you would like for Hubbel and I to discuss let us know.  It may even be possible for the GPP community to have a group talk in the future.  Recommendations of all types are welcome.

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22
Feb

GPP’s Great Power Rankings

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Russia   Print Print

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:

  1.  United States of America
  2.  China
  3.  Russia
  4.  Germany
  5.  Japan
  6.  India
  7.  Brazil
  8.  France
  9.  Turkey
  10.  Israel
On the GP Bubble – Iran, United Kingdom, South Africa. Indonesia, San Francisco Giants (only in the NL West)        

Tier A – USA

Tier B – China, Russia

Tier C – Germany, Japan

Tier D – India

Tier E – Brazil, France, Turkey, Israel

 1. USA – The United States is still the only state on the planet that can project power to all corners of the globe. Despite the economic crisis, the US economy is still head and shoulders above all others. The US geographic security is second to none and its domestic government holds a tremendous amount of legitimacy. Lastly, its cultural and liberal ideology, though under fire from many directions, is still the most pervasive of any kind throughout the world.
 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?

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