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Unit 3, topic 4: Superpower Geographies

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6GEO3 Unit 3 Contested Planet
Topic 4: Superpower Geographies
What is this topic about?
• The superpowers, and emerging
powers, are the most powerful
and wealthy nations
• They have both economic and
political power, often globally
• Power and wealth shift over
time and this topic explores
these changes
• Changing patterns of power
have global implications, which
need to be explored and
understood.
The New York Stock Exchange,
a global power centre
CONTENTS
1. Who are the superpowers?
2. The role of Superpowers
3. Superpower futures
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1. Who are the superpowers?
• Superpowers are countries, or
grouping of countries, with global
influence and power
• They have economic, cultural,
military and geo-political influence
• Economic wealth (see graph) is only
one aspect of superpower status
• One way to group the world's most
powerful is:
The geography of power
• In terms of superpower status, size
is not everything
• Some �demographic superpowers’
have relatively little economic
power
• Military spending (see table) is one
form of power, as it allows
superpowers such as the USA to
have global military reach
• The USA is a highly influential
power in economic, military,
geopolitical and cultural terms
• Only the EU comes close to the
influence of the USA, but the EU is
a federation of 27 nation states
who do not always agree
2008/09 data
China
India
EU
USA
Indonesia
Brazil
Pakistan
Bangladesh
Nigeria
Russia
Japan
Mexico
Gulf States
Total military
Total Population spending ($
(millions)
billions)
1,334
84
1,174
30
500
280
308
607
231
4
192
15
168
4
162
1
154
1
141
59
127
46
107
4
40
40
Use a data website such as
www.wri.org to experiment with
ranking power and status using
different data types
Changing patterns of power
• Superpowers shift over time; the Uni-polar world of the British Empire gave
way to the Bi-polar cold war world
• In 1990, as the USSR collapsed, a new USA dominated Uni-polar world was
ushered in; the EU has grown to be increasingly powerful also
• Many people think the future will be a more complex, fragmented and
regional multi-polar world
• It is important to recognise that power can decline as well as grow
The BRICs and emerging powers
• The BRICs (Brazil,
Russia, India and
China) are the
emerging super powers
• Mexico and the Gulf
States could lay claim
to be in this group also
• This group of countries
is very different, with
perhaps only China
capable of challenging
the USA in the near
future.
China
Communist one-party state which has become the �workshop
of the world’; rapid economic growth based on
manufacturing and trade; significant military and
demographic power
Russia
Russia is what is left of the USSR; it has a huge nuclear
weapons arsenal, and vast oil and gas reserves making it
globally important. It has an ageing, unhealthy population
and weak economy.
India
A huge, and very youthful, population give India enormous
potential for growth. It has some world class industry such as
IT, but very poor infrastructure and 100s millions of very
poor people
Brazil
Increasingly influential in Latin America, with a strong,
diversified economy and growing middle class. It tends to
punch below its weight internationally. It is sometimes
referred to as an �agricultural superpower’.
Mexico
An influential country with strong ties to the USA; Mexico’s
economy is often shaky and it has problems with crime and
corruption.
Gulf
States
Increasingly important in terms of remaining global oil and
gas reserves; has attempted to diversify and become a hub
between Europe and Asia, with some success.
Superpower theory
• There are several theories which help
explain the rise and pattern of
superpowers
• WW Rostow’s �Take Off’ model
(modernisation theory) is often used to
illustrate how countries move from
relative underdevelopment, to a state of
high mass consumption
• Not all countries have managed to
industrialise and develop
• AG Frank’s Dependency Theory argues
that this is because the developed
countries (superpowers and emerging
powers) maintain the developing world in
a �state of underdevelopment’, draining it
of:
Human capital (�brain drain’)
Resources (minerals, ores, food)
• This helps maintain the developed world’s
lifestyle, cheaply
• The BRICs, and NICs, have
developed in recent decades
• This suggests some countries
have broken free from
dependency and developed in
the way Rostow’s model suggests
• Immanuel Wallerstein’s World
Systems Theory seeks to model
this �three sided world’:
• Wallerstein’s ideas are partly
related to the economic theory
of Supercycles (Kondratiev
waves – see table)
• These suggest economic growth
passes through phases based on
key new technologies
• These new technologies bring
growth to particular
geographical regions
Date and Cycle
Technology
1770-1850 Industrial
Cotton, steam engines
Revolution
1850-1920 Industrialization Rail, steam ships, iron
and steel,
1920-1945 Motorization
1945– 1990 Cold war era
1990 onwards
2020 onwards?
Location
UK
Increased
involvement of
Europe and USA
Petrochemicals, cars,
Increasing
electricity
dominance of the
USA
White goods, consumer Rise of Japan and
goods
Asian Tigers
Internet, wireless,
Shifts in production
biotechnology
toward India and
China
????
Asia?
2. The role of Superpowers
•
•
•
•
In the past, superpowers such as the
British Empire and other Imperial
powers maintained direct control
over territories
This era of colonialism ended in the
period 1945-1980 when colonies
gained independence
A characteristic of a superpower is
the ability to take control, through
war, of troublesome regions believed
to threaten superpower security
Whilst rare, superpowers still take
direct military control over territory:
Direct military
conquest /
occupation of
territory
Imposition of
an alien legal
system and
ownership
rights
Ethnic
cleansing of
difficult groups
Mechanisms
of Colonial
Control
Economic
imperialism
e.g. exporting
to the home
country
Invasion of Afghanistan
1980, USSR
Invasion of Panama
1989, USA
First Gulf War (Kuwait, Iraq)
1990, USA, UK, Egypt , Saudi Arabia and
others
Bombing of Bosnia
1995, NATO
War in Afghanistan
2001, NATO led coalition
Cultural
imperialism
through art,
religion and
language
Government by
dictat, through
colonial
administrators
Neo-colonialism?
• Left-wing geographers argue that
superpowers use subtle, indirect
ways to maintain power today
• These ways are often termed neocolonialism
• Aid is often given to allies and
�friends’ rather than the most needy
countries (see table), and much aid is
�tied’ in various ways.
• Debt repayments channel money
from the developing to the developed
world
• Even debt relief schemes, such as the
HIPC scheme (see map) have been
criticised
• For HIPC countries to qualify for debt
relief, they must follow the economic
policies of bankers in the developed
world
Top 10
Recipients of
USA foreign aid
Israel
Egypt
Columbia
Jordan
Pakistan
Peru
Indonesia
Kenya
Bolivia
Ukraine
2006 ($
millions)
2,520
1,795
558
461
698
133
158
213
122
115
Note the total lack of
overlap between the
most indebted
nations and the top
10 receivers of US
aid.
International Trade
• The world trade system is essential a western �free trade’ one
• The USA and EU have been very influential at the World Trade
Organisation in the past
• The World’s three major stock markets (London, New York and
Tokyo) are all in the �west’
• In a globalised world, TNCs play a crucial role in world trade, and
most TNCs originate in the EU and USA
• Emerging superpowers, especially China, have taken advantage of
global trade to develop and grow
International decision making
India
Brazil
Japan
WTO member
Russia
IMF (over 5% of votes)
China
G20
EU
G8
USA
NATO
Membership of Intergovernmental
organisations
UN Security Council
• Global decision making revolves
around inter-governmental
organisation (IGOs)
• Some IGOs involve all nations,
such as the U.N. – others are more
exclusive such as the G8, or
regional such as NATO.
• Membership and voting rights may
give key players disproportionate
power.
• Some influential organisations
such as the World Economic
Forum (Davos Group) are not-forprofit organisations outside
government control.
• IGOs do change over time; the
G20 has become more influential
in recent years, reflecting the
increasing power of the BRICs
Cultural influence
• Superpowers exert a
cultural influence – the
widespread use of English,
tea drinking and cricket are
a cultural legacy of the
British Empire
• Today, the most influential
culture is that of the USA
• �Americanisation’ suggests
that this culture is
spreading. This spread is
made easier by:
1. Global brands and logos
2. The Global media e.g.
Disney and CNN
3. Globalised transport and
communications connections
4. American based TNCs
5. Widespread use of English
Fast food, Cocacola, rock music
on the juke box in
this American
dream diner
Is �Mcdonaldisation’ or �Cocacolonisation’ a
positive or negative development?
The issue tends to be divisive; some antiglobalisation campaigners accuse the USA of
cultural imperialism, and blame US consumer
culture for the erosion of local cultural
traditions. On the other hand, many Chinese see
Americanisation as positive, as it shows progress
and development.
3. Superpower futures
• As the primary emerging
superpower, China has much to
gain from its growing global status
• Poverty reduction in China (see
graph) has been staggering
• China has become motorised, with
over 170 million vehicles at the
end of 2008; some estimates
suggest there were only 3000 cars
in Beijing in 1978
• Inequality in China is a growing
issue, although in general the
population is much better off
• In Brazil and India there is a
growing middle class of consumers
• In India by 2009 there were 500
million mobile phones in use and
over 700 million in China
Superpower resources
• Growth, wealth and the status
that accompanies it brings new
problems to the emerging
powers.
• Chief among these is pollution;
as resources consumption and
eco-footprints grow, so does
pollution .
Almost 70% of China’s energy
comes from coal
Acid rain is a serious
problem, as is water pollution
and urban air pollution; in
2004 25,000km of Chinese
rivers failed water quality
standards
• What if eco-footprints in the
BRICs (see graph) begin to
approach those of the
developed world?
Declining superpowers?
• The emergence of the BRICs
does challenge the hegemony
of the USA
• The USA is not about to enter
precipitous decline, but its
influence may lessen
• There is evidence that the
BRICs are catching up, as the
number of largest TNCs based
in the USA falls, but rises in the
BRICs (see graph)
• There is also some unease
among the BRICs that IGOs such
as the G8 and UN Security
Council are dominated by the
USA and EU
Global Shifts in the Car industry
• In 2002, car sales in China were
just over 3 million
• By 2009 sales had exploded to
11 million, beating the 10
million sold in the USA
• The potential for growth in car
sales in China is vast
• Two of the �Detroit Three’
(Chrysler and GM) went
bankrupt in 2009, shedding jobs
and factories
• USA car companies have only
survived because of
Government bail-outs and
selling or scrapping their loss
making brands.
• Several brands have been sold
to Indian and Chinese
companies
Year
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2008
Population of
Detroit (millions)
1.8
1.7
1.5
1.2
1
0.95
0.9
Development or dependency?
• Does the rise of the BRICs
represent an opportunity for the
least developed countries to
develop new relationships with
wealthy countries?
• China’s interest in the developing
world, especially Africa, has grown
in the last 10 years
• China has invested in
infrastructure such as road and
rail, which Africa desperately
needs.
• In some ways any investment is
good investment
• Critics argue that Africa is still
exporting its raw materials
cheaply, and that the investment
brings few jobs – Chinese workers
are often used instead of local
labour.
China’s trade with Africa increased 10fold between 1999 and 2009, to
$110 billion
Most trade is with oil exporters – Sudan,
Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria,
Angola
China approved $10 billion in loans to
African nations in 2009
China has invested in Zambian copper
mines, iron ore mines in Gabon
China has gifted $150 to build a new
African Union headquarters in Addis
Adaba
Superpower Conflict
• Would a multi-polar global future increase tension and conflict?
• Sources of tension might be considered in terms of three global
agendas:
Strategic
Agenda
• The USA dominates global foreign policy, but its �War or Terror’ brings it into conflict
with the Islamic world and potentially the oil rich Gulf States. China and Russia tend to
support Iran and opposed the two Gulf Wars, whereas the USA strongly opposes Iran’s
nuclear ambitions. Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan are still unresolved problems and the
USA is �stretched’ in terms of international involvement.
Economic
Agenda
• Global economic growth and globalisation place increased pressure on natural resources
(land for food, water, fossil fuels, ores and minerals); conflict over resources is possible
in the future and locations such as Africa, the Gulf States and Russia are likely to
become increasingly important as areas with large remaining reserves of resources. This
could increase tensions as the Superpowers and emerging powers squabble over access
to resources.
Climate
Agenda
• The difficult and protracted Climate negotiations in Copenhagen in Dec 2009 showed
that the USA, EU and BRICs do not share the same views on environmental issues;
relations between China and the USA were chilly to say the least; environmental (and
human rights) issues have some potential to sour international relations.
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