The USA has been the hegemony since the Soviet Union fell at the end of the Cold War. Although the USA is still undoubtedly one of the most powerful countries on earth, it has undeniably been losing its’ lead. If you have been listening to any of the campaigning or debates for the 2016 presidential election, you have almost undoubtedly heard candidates discussing this issue. In fact, the promise to “Make America great again!” has propelled Donald Trump into what is so far a massive lead in the Republican primary (CNN).
While there are many different ways of measuring power, it is usually military and economic power that sparks the most worry. Although there is much discussion over how to wage war against terrorist groups, it is not often discussed how we stack up against other world powers. To make things interesting, I decided to focus this article on the two countries that are most often portrayed as the fiercest competitors of the United States; China and Russia. I will make my comparisons based upon several factors including each state’s population, GDP, national debt, nuclear capabilities, military size and defense budget.
A states potential power is partially dependent on the size of its population. A large population brings with it the opportunity to form a large military and work force. China having the largest population (1,349,585,838) has more than double the population of the USA (316,668,567) and Russia (145,500,482) added together.(“World Military Strength Comparison”). In addition to having the largest population, China also has the largest military. China has 2,285,000 active military members and a reserve force of 2,300,000. The USA has the second largest active military but has a smaller reserve force than Russia. (“World Military Strength Comparison”).
Although China has the largest military in terms of personnel it does not necessarily make their military superior to Russia’s or the USA. The effectiveness of a military is determined not only by manpower, but also by their access to resources. The USA has a defense budget of $612,500,000,000, which is more than double that of China, and Russia’s added together.(“World Military Strength Comparison”). This large budget allows the USA to put more resources into developing advanced technologies, manufacture superior equipment, build military instillations, and fund desired programs.
While conventional military forces undoubtedly play a major role in determining how powerful a nation is, they do not strike the same level of fear in the hearts of other states as nuclear weapons. Since nukes are the most destructive weapons ever created it is important to take them into account while examining a states power. The USA, China, and Russia all possess nuclear weapons but China only has only a fraction of the amount as the other two. (“Nuclear weapons: Who has what?”). Russia possesses more nukes than the USA, but it does not have the same capabilities as the USA to disperse them. The USA has the most aircraft carriers and military bases, enabling it to use its nukes anywhere in the world. Having military bases all over the world also enables the USA to make better use of conventional military forces. (“World Military Strength Comparison”).
The USA has a GDP far larger than China or Russia. The GDP of the USA is$16,720,000,000,000, which is almost double that of China and over five times larger than Russia’s. (“The World Fact Book”). China has had a recent up-shoot in their economy but it is still a long shot from overtaking the USA. Although the USA has the largest GDP by far, it also has the largest national debt. The US national debt of $17,440,000,000,000 is three times larger than China’s and many times larger than Russia’s. (“World Debt Clock: National Debt Clocks From Around The World”)
In conclusion you probably want to know who would win in a war. The only real answer to that is no one. All war has ever done is lead to more death, destruction and hatred. We have long been caught in a perpetual cycle of violence, hate and retribution that we can no longer afford to tolerate. For the first time ever, people are able to connect to others from around the world instantaneously. Through the internet and the increased accessibility of computers, tablets and smartphones, humanity has gained an ability that has been taken for granted.We have reached an unprecedented level of interconnection on a global scale. Think of how amazing it is that anyone with a smartphone literally has a device capable of accessing a worldwide network of information, entertainment and communication. We no longer have any of the excuses of previous generations to remain ignorant of the situation that this world is in. We no longer have an excuse to fall for propaganda aimed at causing us to hate our fellow man simply because they live in another part of the world. Now that it is possible to see the whole world through a screen, we can no longer shut our eyes to the fact that we are all much more similar than we believe. Often, both sides in a war attempt to paint the other as villains, and themselves as the heroes. Both sides often see themselves as the afflicted party, and justify retaliation. All that war has ever done is further the spread of hate and sadness , resulting in even more of the same. Some people will say that war has been going on forever and that it will never end. The same people would often argue that anyone who disagrees is naive. If you are one of those people I ask you to consider this. Never before in known history have there been weapons capable of literally destroying the planet. No matter what path humanity decides to walk, one thing is certain; that war will end, either through peace, or because there is no one left to fight.