Which Country Is The Most Powerful In The World?
The most powerful nations are the ones that shape global economic patterns, preoccupy policymakers, and tend to have strong defense and military. Photo KnowInsiders

The 2021 Best Countries rankings, formed in partnership with BAV Group, a unit of global marketing communications company VMLY&R, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, are based on a study that surveyed more than 17,000 people from four regions to assess perceptions of 78 countries on 76 different metrics.

The Power subranking is based on an equally weighted average of scores from five country attributes that related to a country's power: a leader, economically influential, politically influential, strong international alliances and strong military. The Power subranking score had a 6.09% weight in the overall Best Countries ranking.

No change in the list

Which Country Is The Most Powerful In The World?

Although there was little change this year in the 10 countries seen as being the most powerful, many shuffled positions. The United States is perceived to be the most powerful country again, and has the world’s largest economy and biggest military budget, spending over $732 billion on military hardware and personnel in 2019. The country is a leader in the so-called war on terror, is by far the largest contributor to NATO and cements alliances by giving out billions of dollars in military aid to nations worldwide. The U.S. spent more than $33 billion in economic aid and about $13 billion in military aid in 2019, the most recent year data is available.

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.

You detail many reasons why the US is the world’s preeminent power—what are, say, the top two reasons?

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

Michael Beckley, an associate professor of political science at Tufts, said First, the United States has a huge lead by the most important measures of national power. China is the only country that comes close, and America still has three times China’s wealth and five times its military capabilities. That gap would take decades to close even if things go badly for the United States.

Second, things probably won’t go badly for the United States, at least relatively speaking, because it has the best long-term economic growth prospects among the major powers. Economists have shown that long-run growth depends on a country’s geography, demography, and political institutions. The United States has an edge in all three categories.

Geographically, the United States is a natural economic hub and military fortress. It’s packed with resources and has more economic arteries like navigable waterways and ports than the rest of the world combined. Its only neighbors are Canada and Mexico. China, by contrast, has burned through its resources and is surrounded by nineteen countries, many of which are hostile or unstable, and ten of which still claim parts of China’s territory as their own.

Demographically, America is the only nation that is simultaneously big, young, and highly educated. The U.S. workforce is the third largest, second youngest, most educated in years of schooling, and most productive among the major powers—and it is the only major workforce that will grow throughout this century.

China, by contrast, will lose 200 million workers over the next thirty years and add 300 million senior citizens. Chinese workers produce six times less wealth per hour than American workers on average. More than two-thirds of China’s workers lack a high school education; and one-third of Chinese young people entering the workforce have an IQ below 90, largely a result of malnutrition, poor care, and pollution.

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How did the United States rise to global preeminence over traditional European powers, such as the United Kingdom or France?

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.

Why aren’t other nations with large natural resources reserves and populations, like Russia, China, or Brazil able to compete with the United States?

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.

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.

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