How the USA Maintains Its Superpower Status
A superpower is a country with the power to exert influence globally. This power should be military, cultural, and economic. Economic power is most important, as it enables the other forms of power to be created, although a large population is also necessary, usually along with significant natural resources. Historically, the USA has built its economic superiority via colonialism – its conquest of the ‘wild west’ provided large amounts of natural resources, such as gold, which were exported, creating large revenue, which helped years later in the USA’s purchase of Alaska from Russia. More recently, it has engaged in neo-imperialism, both through its military and cultural influence; American brands such as Facebook, Starbucks, and McDonalds are found across the world. The USA has the highest military spending of any country, allowing it to continuously be at the forefront of military technology; in the event of war, the USA would achieve “full-spectrum domination”. This imperialistic strategy clearly shows a global influence being exerted, and so its superpower status being maintained.
American brands are extremely influential in maintaining the superpower status. They engage in cultural hybridisation – adapting to local needs, rather than imposing a completely foreign culture, e.g. McDonalds focuses on fish-burgers rather than hamburgers in Hindu nations. Whilst this goes against the notion of the American way becoming a ‘global culture’, it allows American brands to infiltrate resistant countries, such as France, which supposedly has strong anti-Americanism views – the sale of Coca-Cola was banned in the 1950s – but now has 17 Starbucks outlets in Paris alone, furthering America’s cultural hegemony, as well as contributing to the USA’s GNP, and therefore its economic power.
The USA’s neo-colonialism is also evidenced by its foreign economic activities; in 1991, it prioritised sending aid and investment to ex-communist countries, including South Korea and Japan, in an attempt to ally them; its aid does not necessarily go to the poorest countries – it is used as a political tool to improve relations. America exerts its military influence globally; its military bases cover every populated continent, with a higher concentration around Russia, especially in the west; this could represent the USA’s conflicting ideologies with Russia, and an attempt to surround the country which occupies the ‘heartland’ in Mackinder’s theory, in order to prevent the advantaged Russia from challenging its superpower status.
Since 1900, the USA has had the world’s largest economy; it manufactures large amounts of luxury goods, and the US dollar is the world’s major currency. The USA’s relative isolation from conflict has diminished the chance of attacks which would ruin infrastructure – it was able to support Europe after WWII, strengthening allies and establishing its dominance.
The USA’s military influence can be seen as reassuring or threatening, depending on the country. The distribution of military bases shows both the protection of trade routes, such as the Panama Canal, and the slight provocation of the middle-east.
The USA maintains its superpower status through large military investment, cultural dominance, and economic superiority. Its dominant position and developed infrastructure induce large amounts of growth and investment; around 20 of the 50 largest companies have their headquarters in the USA, and these have massive global influence.