Saturday, January 15, 2011

Super power dance-America, China, India

Professor Deepak Lal writes
  • A rough measure of this relative power is provided by data on relative GDP. From the most recent set of comparable PPP data compiled by the late Angus Maddison, it seems that the US remains way ahead of all possible competitors at the moment, and despite prognostications of its economic decline (as I have argued in earlier columns), it would be foolish to write off the US. The US is and is likely to remain the sole superpower for the foreseeable future. 

  • It should be noted the possession of nuclear weapons is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a superpower or great power, nor is membership of the Security Council either necessary or sufficient: as witness the role of Pakistan, or North Korea for the former, and the UK and France for the latter. China and India are already regional great powers. They are both trying to expand their global influence. But, until they can provide a credible challenge to US naval power, they are unlikely to be able to compete.

  • In a brilliant book, Walter Russell Mead (God and Gold, Knopf, 2007) has argued that world politics in the last 400 years can best be explained by the maritime system first created by the Dutch in the 17th century, and then adopted by the British and subsequently the US to create their imperia. In each version, sea power was used to build up “global systems of trade and might”. The open, dynamic and capitalist society this created “generated innovations in finance, technology, marketing, and communication”. The wealth generated provided the basis for military power. “The basic formula of an open society, world trade, and world power was the power secret… and the major driving force in the history of the 400 years”.

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