Military serves as the parapet of the country’s sovereignty and it protects states against foreign aggression. Military resources – troops and artilleries – ensure the security and political stability of a nation, whereas economy sustains it. At the world stage, military supremacy serves as the backbone of global political power and influence. It is more important than cultural, social, and other factors. However, economic aspect is the primary factor to balance military equation. Up to date, scholars still have no common formula to estimate the power of nations whilst considering significant numbers of factors. Considerably, military supremacy is an emblem of world political power.
In “The Power of Nations: Measuring What Matters,” Michael Beckley explains that “power is typically defined as the ability of the country to shape world politics in line with its interests . . . scholars measure power in terms of resources, specifically wealth and military assets” (8). In ordinary people’s viewpoint, it is a simple calculation and manifestation of power. Nevertheless, Beckley cited that “scholars measure resources with gross indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP); military spending; or the Composite Indicator of National Capacity (CINC), which combines the data on military spending, troops, population, urban population, iron and steel production, and energy consumption” (9). Based on this account, economy or wealth has an irrefutable role to finance militarization towards a country’s political power. It stresses a strong point that “although GDP is technically an economic indicator, proponents argue that it captures both economic and military capacity, because states can easily convert economic resources into military might. In short, GDP is considered to be fungible; it can be turned into “any mix of military, economic, and political resources, just as a person can use cash to buy many forms of influence” (16). Beckley finds out that “GDP per capita [ ] provides a rough but reliable measure of economic and military efficiency” (19).
In “How America Should Lead,” Kori Schake and Klaus Becher examine that the September 11 attacks on the United States affect the economy by way of spending billions of dollars for donations and charity fund to families of victims, increase in military innovations to remain dominantly engaged in international order, and reassessment on political complacency through intelligence capability. They noted that “at its best, US military is now a laboratory of innovation in warfare . . .” (8). Failures in military operations affect the country’s economy and bear an implied decline in political power. The interlocking features of the power resources – economic, military, and political – show that a shortcoming of one affects other power capitals.
In Joseph Nye’s “Limits of American Power,” he explains that war is an ultimate game to test great powers and to prove relative power of international politics. Yet, Nye explores that the strength of war as a test of power shifts away from military force (271). He also infers that another aspect of power is getting others to want what you want, which he called soft power: co-opts people rather than coerces them. This political platform is an ability of setting political agenda in a manner that others will take them as their own preference. These soft power refers to values embedded in the culture like democracy and the rule of law (275-277).
Conflating the earlier accounts gathered from literature, it could be determined that US strong political influence was established through its global networks: market democracies by globalizing capitalism (economic); American philanthropies worldwide (financial) and leadership in major international organization (political); and the visibility of US military forces in different regions of the world (military). Thus, hegemonic nation, like the United States, rely on a threatening synergy of economic and financial, political, and military powers – the triad of powers of hegemony.
Becher, Klaus & Schake, Kori. “How America Should Lead.” Policy Review. Aug/Sep2002, Issue 114, p3. 16p.
Beckley, Michael. “The Power of Nations: Measuring What Matters.” International Security. Volume 43, Number 2, Fall 2018, pp. 7-44. URL: https//muse.jhu.edu/article/709433
Nye, Joseph S. “Limits of American Power.” Political Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell). June2016, Vol.131 Issue 2, p267-283. 17p.
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