The United States is the world’s only superpower, dominating the world’s economic and political systems. With the strongest military and economy, the United States is capable of global power projection, giving it significant influence worldwide. Few countries dare to oppose America’s political agenda.
But how did the United States rise to global preeminence over traditional European powers, such as the United Kingdom or France? Why aren’t other nations with large natural resources reserves and populations, like Russia, China, or Brazil able to compete with the United States?
The answer is geography. The power of the United States has its roots in the American control of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the most used trade routes in the world. This strategic positioning gives it natural geographical advantages. Competent and aggressive American policies further capitalize on these advantages and secure the United States in a position of economic, military and political strength.
Benefiting from abundant national resources, high worker productivity, and a strong industrial base, the United States has the largest economy in the world. With few regional competitors and secured borders – America’s southern Mexican border was secured in the Mexican-American war while her northern Canadian border remains the longest demilitarized border in the world – America’s industrial core is always protected.
But the true power of the United States lays in their control of the Atlantic and Pacific.
Safely nestled between the two oceans which serve as natural defensive barriers and as the major economic shipping lanes of the world, the United States has risen to global economic dominance. The United States is literally at the economic center of the world – it connects Asia and Europe, historically the two largest economic powers. As international trade relies heavily on shipping, America profits significantly from the trade routes that connect Northern America to Eastern Asia and Western Europe.
This commercial activity funds the American economy and makes it major trading partner with China, Japan, and the European Union. By controlling the profitable Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the United States has become the most powerful economy in the world, dwarfing other nations.
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The United States Navy
Bordered by the Pacific in the west and the Atlantic in the east, any major invasion of the continental United States would require an enemy to control the oceans. Without naval dominance in at least one of the oceans, transporting and supplying an attacking army would be impossible. To prevent an amphibious invasion, America has adopted an offensive strategy of absolute naval dominance in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and have invested heavily in their military. With a massive annual military budget of $700 billion, the United States has achieved global control over the oceans.
The United States surpassed the traditional naval power, the United Kingdom, during World War II when they acquired strategic naval bases throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean from the British themselves. Facing starvation under a violent submarine blockade, the British fleet was desperate for ships to fight against the Germans.
The Americans were quick to capitalize. By transferring 50 American destroyers to the beleaguered British fleet in exchange for key British naval bases under the lend-lease act, the United States navy gained numerous footholds in extremely strategic positions worldwide.
Through investment and dedication, the United States has built a modernized, well-trained navy which has become the preeminent naval force in the world. At the core of the American fleet are its aircraft carriers, each possessing more firepower than many small countries entire militaries. The strategic positioning of these aircraft carriers worldwide gives the United States extensive military power projection.
The United states currently has 12 aircraft carriers deployed worldwide and each carrier is supported by two destroyers and often multiple submarines, totaling over 7,500 personnel.
Other major military rivals like China and Russia have just 1 aircraft carrier each.
No other country even remotely poses a threat to global American naval superiority. In fact, the United States Navy boasts the second most powerful air force in the world, only trumped by the actual American Air Force.
Protection of the Pacific and Atlantic
To protect the strategically important Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the United States has deployed its navy throughout the region. The 2nd fleet, 3rd fleet, 6th fleet, and 7th fleet are all permanently positioned directly over important shipping lanes.
American naval control of the Pacific and Atlantic protects the United States’ industrial heartland by deterring invasion and solidifying control over their economically lucrative shipping routes. To consolidate American military control over the oceans, the United States has made strategic allies with both Japan across the Pacific and NATO across the Atlantic.
By controlling the modern sea lanes that are the bedrock of the intentional economic system, no country can threaten American economic interests. The United States’ economy can support a massive navy, and without America’s huge budget for military spending, the Americans simply outspend their opponents.
Origins of American Political Power
The origins of American political power are in the United States’ total economic and military dominance over the oceans.
By having the ability to effectively blockade anyone, other nations must be extremely wary in their political dealings with the United States. Most nations would rather corporate with America than be shut out of world trade. Fearful of destructive American economic sanctions, such as the embargo has devastated Cuba’s economy for decades, countries usually accept American demands.
When a country does not comply with American political demands, economic sanctions are levied – for example, America is currently imposing sanctions against Russia for their annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Unable to compete militarily with the United States, Russia is unable to challenge American economic sanctions and therefore will either acquiesce to the Americans or face financial ruin.
Institutionalization of International Influence
For decades, the United States has been institutionalizing its power by placing itself at the head multiple economic and security apparatuses. With many nations dependent on the United States for economic and military purposes, America is only becoming more entrenched in their position of global geopolitical superiority.
Over the past century, the United States has established a global economic system that needs them to survive. Direct American control over major international banking institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have made America irreplaceable in the modern day economic system.
United States can oversee military action worldwide as a permanent member of the UN Security council and the Americans have strategic alliances in order to maintain power. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization protects American military interests in Europe, encircling Russia and effectively neutralizing the once powerful Soviet Union. With a comprehensive system of alliances and the leading role in the international markets, the United States is positioned to remain the most powerful country in the world. Any potential superpower must cooperate with the United States for access to the global market, and any hypothetical confrontation between the two would see America economically strangle its opponent. Through their massive military spending and strategic alliance forging, no nations can hope to compete with the United States militarily.
While many people see an economically surging China, a resource rich Brazil, or a militaristic Russia and predict American downfall, they underestimate the global influence of the United States. Through the Americans strategic geographic positioning in the center of major trade routes that funds a enormous economy which in turn supports a massive military, the United States is secure on its throne of international power.