Being a superpower means that a state or country has a position of dominance because of its ability to exercise influence in the world. This includes the military, technological, economic and cultural strength of the state or country. The term superpower was first used during World War II, when, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States were known as the superpowers of the world.
The Effects of War
The emergence of several wars may have led to the fall of the two countries. The United Kingdom fell off the list of superpower after the World War II and the Suez Crisis in 1956 because it was not able to sustain their objectives for foreign policy. The country had to sacrifice a great deal of its economy.
The United States did not suffer that much, on the other hand. The superpower was able to sustain her industrial strength. Back then, the US also became the leading supplier of several needs. Their technological and industrial infrastructure has strengthened their military which made them the largest creditor nation of the world.
During the Cold War, there were then two superpowers left, the United States and the Soviet Union. These two countries were always in opposition in many areas, primarily, on the area of ideology where Soviet Union promoted communism while the United States, democracy. At that time, Europe was divided as some allied with the United States and some with the Soviet Union leading to the emergence of the bipolar world. However, Soviet Union was dissolved in 1990’s after the Cold War which left the United States to be the only superpower until today.
Dominance in Economy
When it comes to economy, the United States did not suffer damage during and after the World War II. The country’s problem with the economy was in fact, resolved during the World War. Marks of prosperity were evidenced after the war. The GNP, take for example of the country rose to $5,200 billion from its $100 billion mark.
The population, on the other hand, increased as well from an estimated 132 million to an estimated 240 million. Because of the growth in population, there was an increase in consumption which led to the need to increase production. This is called consumerism or consumer culture.
The United States was not worried about the growth though because their natural resources could sustain this consumer culture. The country also had access to several natural resources in different countries around the world.
Communism was an ideology that the US foreign policy tried to contain during the World War II. The United States had to either send troops or aid rebels to destroy several regimes in the Latin American countries, most especially those that were known as Anti-American. In 1960, John F. Kennedy became the US President. His presidency was marked by an era of new dynamism in the country’s domestic policy. During his presidency, however, the country became involved with several foreign dealing like the Vietnam War, the problem with Soviet missiles and the Bay of Pigs.
President Kennedy was able to take the initiative to come into treaty with Soviet Union’s Premier Khrushchev in 1963 to ban nuclear tests whether in the atmosphere, underwater or in outer space. The president was however assassinated in the 22nd of November in the same year. His assassin was later on killed on TV, raising speculations as to who might have really killed President Kennedy. The Vietnam War, on the other hand, became worse during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in 1963 to 1969, which also worsened during the next presidency of Richard Nixon in 1969 to 1974. The war ended with the defeat of the United States.
Then there came the bombing of Cambodia, where the Cambodian government was overthrown and a pro-US government was seated with a military power taking hold of the country. The war extended by the United States to Laos, which comprises one-third of the Indo-China region. The United States under President Nixon entered into a relationship with China which led to the United States withdrawing military power from Vietnam.
The war ended when President Nixon resigned following a scandal known as the Watergate. The former president was accused of espionage and corruption which he has denied. There were several other foreign dealings made by the United States which became unpopular like its support for the late president Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Jean-Claude Duvalier of Haiti, known as Papa Doc. These dealings, however, created more problems.
Several other foreign dealings include the case of Iran, which went into turmoil. The United States took a bold step in dealing with Iran which was illegal in the country’s own law. The Shah of Iran, a notable supporter of the US fled the country which led to the hostage of several Americans. Consequently, the US had to return assets to Iran because the dealing became disastrous.
Several other dealings include the trial of General Noriega of Panama on American soil because of drug trafficking and the war with Iraq in 1991 because of its occupation of Kuwait. It ended with the defeat of Iraq. The US once again invaded Iraq in 2003 because Iraq’s involvement in the development of weapons for mass destruction. The US since then has occupied the state. The United States, to this date, continues to make foreign dealings with other countries thereby extending their powers to these countries.