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Theories

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Superpowers geography

How is power exercised and maintained?

Direct power in the most obvious way of exercising and maintaining power.

Exercise of direct power

• British imperialism – wholesale conquest of countries. Insurgency put down by force. • Military power – US navy has 12 aircraft carriers and 70 submarines. It is the most powerful military machine on Earth. It established a ring of bases to surround the USSR in the Cold War era, as part of its policy of containment. The Iraq war saw the USA effectively “go it alone.” • Some economic power is direct. The USA plays a major role in world trade, much of which is conducted in $. The US $ is the world’s reserve currency.

• A key area of US international prestige since the 1960s has been the exploration of space. 1969 saw men on the moon. The USA aims to build a moon base by 2020 and visit Mars by 2037.

Exercise of indirect power

• Neo-colonialism (term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana) is a form of indirect control over developing counties, most of them former colonies. Has neo-colonialism prevented any real development progress in the 40 years since colonies gained their independence? Africa could lead us to say yes. India could lead us to say no. • Some people say the IGOs were set up by superpowers for superpowers. The IMF was set up in 1944. It has its headquarters in Washington. Counties wishing to have their debt relieved have to apply Western economic policies devised by the World Bank and the IMF. This means they lose some of their economic sovereignty. • Global economic and political power is in the hands of a small number of players in the form of IGOs. The USA is a member of the G7, the G8, the UN Security Council, NATO, OPEC and the IMF. This means it can steer global policy and decision making in its own interest....

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