Superpowers in the globe are the most powerful countries in the world. Superpowers acquire prominent positions on the international stage and are defined by their capacity to exert influence or project power (or aid) on a global scale.
Countries throughout the globe carefully observe the economic, military, and diplomatic policies of the world’s superpowers because of the outsized influence such policies may have on their economies and the global economy.
Defining a superpower as a state that cannot be ignored on the international stage and without whose participation no world crisis can be addressed is a particularly astute definition from Britannica.
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A list of 2022’s world superpowers:
- United States
- European Union
The United States and the Soviet Union were the first countries ever referred to as world superpowers following World War II.
The United States and the Soviet Union were the dominant powers during the Cold War. Neither country took a significant decision without first contemplating how it might affect the other.
After the Soviet Union collapsed and shrank to become modern-day Russia in the early 1990s, some analysts contend that only the United States remained a superpower. There is some debate among experts today as to whether or not the United States is now the only global superpower.
The United States
No other nation now holds the United States’ position as a worldwide powerhouse. Others believe the United States is the only remaining superpower.
With projected military spending of $778 billion in 2020 and a GDP of $20.9 trillion, the United States is unrivalled as a global military and economic powerhouse.
China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, and South Korea aren’t even in the top ten regarding military expenditure. Yet, the United States spends more than all of them together.
The United States also has a high potential for economic development. Political scientist Michael Beckley of Tufts University argues that the United States has a leg up on its rivals because it is large (geographically), youthful (and) well educated, and (most importantly) has a healthier government than other superpowers.
Despite its many advantages, according to some analysts, the United States’ biggest weakness is a potential internal deterioration, especially in the present sharply divided political atmosphere.
The presidency of Donald Trump is illustrative of this schism because his actions on immigration, foreign policy, trade, and military strategy were often seen as less cooperative than those of previous administrations and thus attracted significant attention — and often criticism — even from the United States’s closest allies.
Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, barring citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, and conducting military actions, including a drone strike on Iran in January 2020, were all significant steps taken during Trump’s presidency.
His successor, President Joe Biden, has reversed many of Trump’s moves on the international stage. Specifically, in 2021, Biden reinstated the Paris Climate Accord, ended the Muslim ban, and prevented Trump from withdrawing from the World Health Organization.
Many analysts believe China has the makings of a future global powerhouse. Others believe China will overtake the United States as the world’s preeminent power within the next several decades.
In 2020, China had the world’s second-highest GDP at US$14.7 trillion. It has the greatest total population and is the second largest nation in land area.
China’s military budget of $252 billion is the second biggest in the world, much behind the United States defence budget of $616 billion.
Further, China keeps making strides on the international scene, expanding its diplomatic sway, becoming a major contributor to the global economy, and driving technical advancements, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI) and green technology.
However, China faces several substantial challenges. It has a sizable population, but its working-age population is quickly ageing, and more than two-thirds of its residents lack a high-school diploma.
The sheer number of people living in China puts enormous pressure on the country’s resources, and pollution and starvation are persistent problems.
The Chinese government’s extensive corruption and readiness to sacrifice economic progress and its inhabitants’ personal advancement to preserve power are frequently highlighted as obstacles to development.
There is a growing consensus among academics that the European Union (EU) is on the cusp of becoming a global powerhouse.
The European sovereign debt crisis lasted from 2008 to 2012, and Brexit, in which the United Kingdom formally left the EU in 2020, severely impeded the EU’s efforts to become a worldwide powerhouse.
In 2020, the EU’s GDP was $15.2 trillion, more than China’s $14.4 trillion. As of 2022, the European Union does not have a unified army, but certain member states, like Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, have formidable armed forces.
Despite these benefits, many worry that the EU can’t last so long since its member states have such different economic and political agendas.
In addition, the EU does not have a coherent foreign strategy and cannot (as of the year 2022) successfully project military strength abroad.
Regarding international influence, India can rival any other country in the world. India has the second-largest population in the world, and by 2025, it is projected to overtake China.
India has the world’s biggest and youngest workforce because of its rapid economic development and increasing population.
India has increased its military might to protect its borders with Pakistan and China. India is one of the few countries in the world with the military might to project its power everywhere; the Indian military has around 100 nuclear bombs and two aircraft carriers (with a third on the way).
India boasts the third-most billion-dollar start-up enterprises in the world, behind the United States and China. This is in addition to its rapidly expanding population, thriving economy, and reinforced military.
While the current status of Russia as a global superpower is up for question, there can be no doubt that the Soviet Union was, without a doubt, a superpower.
Russia may claim to be the world’s biggest nation, with a territory that spans much of Asia and Europe. Oil, natural gas, and wheat come from Russia, making it one of the world’s top exporters.
Yet contemporary Russia is hardly the global superpower of yesteryear. In 2020, its GDP was just US$1.4 trillion, which is less than 7% of the GDP of the United States and only 10% of China’s.
The current population of Russia is estimated at 145.8 million, although this number might drop by as much as 30% in the next three decades.
There is much debate among political leaders, academics, and the media as to whether or not Russia has achieved superpower status. Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, said in 2009 that Russia is a superpower due to the declining role of the United States.
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However, Los Angeles Times writer Matthew Fleischer argued in 2014 that Russia would only become a superpower if climate change melted the permafrost that currently covers about two-thirds of the country, revealing plentiful stores of natural gas, oil, and precious minerals, allowing Russia to control the world’s supply of these resources.
Others contend that Russia cannot even be considered a potential superpower due to its many perceived weaknesses.
These include its trade relations, which are comparable to those of a Third World country, its much smaller GDP than China or the United States, and its lack of highly rated universities.
Regarding per capita income, Russia is likewise towards the bottom of Europe, coming in at number 10 or 11, depending on whether or not you include the internationally recognized status of Kosovo.
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PricewaterhouseCoopers, a management consulting organization, projects that not just India and China but also Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria will become major world powers by 2050.