Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

What defines a SuperPower?

Until about a year ago, many articles claimed that China would surpass the USA as an (economic) SuperPower. I never believed those articles. China did and does not meet the SuperPower criteria. Today, many articles assume that USA may not be surpassed. I doubt that too.

The Roman Empire was – probably – the first global empire. Alternatively, it was a multiregional empire (eg, Africa, Europe, Asia). Before Rome, empires were only regional. See my 2015 blog on regional Superpowers since 3000 BC. Global superpowers arose after the Black Death pandemic (c.1400-c.1500).

Some of the above SuperPower criteria need some elaboration:

  • Demographics (#1) implies a population that is adequate (eg, army) and viable (eg, China, Japan).
  • A country needs a flourishing economy (#2) for the employment of its citizens (eg, China).
  • A stable Government (#3) is based upon an electoral majority (eg, China, Russia, USA).
  • Infrastructure (#4), whether digital or physical (eg, roads), is essential for expanding power.
  • The court system (#5) must be independent (eg, China, Russia) and non-ideological (eg, USA).
  • Assets must be allocated (#6) by markets (ie, EU, USA); not by governments (eg, China, Russia).
  • Capital flows and markets (#8) are essential in a market-driven asset allocation (eg, China).
  • Policies (#9) must we wise rather than foolish (eg, 1 child in China).
  • Taxes (#10) are necessary to fund necessary government expenditure (eg, USA).
  • Without access (#12) to water (eg, oceans, rivers, seas), there is no SuperPower.

Consequently, there is a clear decline in American SuperPower. However, it’s (very) unclear which country is able and willing to be its successor. China is willing but unable. The EU is able but unwilling. Moreover, any (Power) vacuum will attract forces, whether new/old or known/unknown.

Once you refrain from the level of countries and move towards geopolitical blocs then there is a clear SuperPower: the cooperation between US, NATO and EU. The competition from rival blocs (eg, China+Russia) seems negligent.

“Sizable majorities of U.S. adults say that in 2050 – just over 25 years away – the U.S. economy will be weaker, the United States will be less important in the world, political divisions will be wider and there will be a larger gap between the rich and the poor.”

A quote from the (conservative) American Enterprise Institute in its 2023 article Will the US Be Weaker in 2050 than Today?

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (1985) by Tears for Fears
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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