Which country is the most powerful in the world? Which country is the biggest Superpower? If you can’t answer this question easily, then think. Which country’s economy is the largest? Which country’s GDP is more than $20 trillion? Which country’s companies are the most famous?
Which country’s films have affected the world most? Which country has won the most Nobel prize? And which country has won the most Olympic medals? Which country has the strongest military power? The answer to all these questions is America. Superpower! and America.
But the question is: How did the USA become a Superpower?
What did they do to become so powerful?
Let’s try to figure it out in today’s this article
the history of the last 2,000 years. The contribution of each country to the Global GDP. Before the 1800s, India and China were the two biggest superpowers in the world. Most of the trade and economic activities revolved around India and China. And it remained so for 1,800 years. But after the 1900s, in the last 100 years only, The USA started gaining dominance, And established such a large share in the global GDP.
How did it become possible?
We need to delve into history to understand it. In the year 1492, the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, discovered some Caribbean islands near North America. After this, the Europeans got to know America. And the colonization of America started. By the Europeans.
During this time, Red Indians lived in America They’re also known as Native Americans. There were numerous different tribes. South America was mostly colonized by Spain. It is known as Latin America today.
This is the reason why in most of the South American countries, Spanish is spoken. Britain established its first colony in America around the 1600s. France started colonizing too. Initially, these were the three main powers. Britain, France and Spain.
They colonized North America. In the years that followed the population of the Native Americans living in America reduced by 80-90%. There are several reasons for it. But the biggest reason is the diseases that the European colonizers brought with them. Diseases like smallpox and influenza. The Native Americans hadn’t developed the immunity to fight against these.
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Several decades later, on 4th July 1776,The American revolutionaries declared their Independence from the Britishers. And thus, America became a new country. Here, the United States of America was born. All of these are major stories in their own rights. But let’s jump to post 1850. Because, America’s graph started rising only after 1850. This was the era when the British, French and Spanish colonizers had occupied several territories around the world. India was also a colony of the British Raj.
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In this circumstance, the country of the USA had already become a democratic country. So if any new country, thought about amalgamating with the USA, or becoming a part of the British, French or Spanish colonies, every country would’ve preferred to join the USA, because they would get the same freedom and democracy.
that several States of the USA were starting to get. This is why the States like Florida, Illinois and Ohio preferred to join the United States of America. Instead of remaining a colony under the Spanish or British government. In 1836, Texas was a state that got its freedom from Mexico. But Mexico was still tormenting them so much that They chose to join the USA. Similarly, the States, one after the other, kept on joining the USA and the United States of America kept on growing.
Every State had a reason to join the USA. But don’t mistake America to have been completely harmless. It was a democratic country, sure, but America’s intention was to expand its territory as much as possible. For this reason, in 1867 The Alaskan territory was bought by America from Russia at the price of $7.2 million. There’s also the State of Hawaii. It’s in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Today, you’d think that the territory is so far from the USA How can it be a part of the USA? Because the USA annexed it.
In 1898, the USA overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii and occupied its territory. Theoretically, the USA was not a colonizer like Britain, France and Spain. But it sure behaved like them. If seen from the perspective of some places. The areas of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines were also annexed by the USA in 1898 By the US President William McKinley. The USA paid $20 million to Spain to annex the Philippines. But today, the Philippines is an independent country.
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Because in 1946, the Philippines got its Independence from the USA. All that money wasted. By the 1900s, the USA had become a large country. Numerous territories were a part of the USA. And obviously, the bigger the country, the bigger is the economy and the GDP. This is the reason. The USA occupied a significant portion of the global GDP on the graph.
But this was only the beginning. The real magic happened between 1900 and 1950
Do you remember what happened during these 50 years? There were two World Wars. And where did these two World Wars take place? In Europe. France, Germany, the Uk, Spain, Italy they were all fighting among themselves in the two World Wars. And the USA was sitting on the sidelines. Even though the USA had participated in the World Wars. It supplied weapons to these countries.
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The Wars weren’t on the USA’s territory. Numerous American soldiers died in the World Wars but economically, the USA wasn’t adversely affected. In fact, the USA was the only country to have profited from the World Wars. They sold so many weapons to Germany, France and other European countries that they made a net profit.
And the countries like the UK, Germany and France were totally devastated. It wasn’t that the USA had tried to take undue advantage of all the devastation, It was merely a matter of chance that the USA was making profits during the World Wars.
When the wars started in the European countries the Europeans felt that their currencies would lose their values. And that their economies would crash. And so, to protect their wealth, They decided to buy the US Dollars. Because the US Dollar was a stable currency. And America was a very stable country during the World Wars. So a lot of people bought US Dollars. And the value of the US Dollar rose a lot.
In 1944, when WWII was at its last stage, 44 Allied countries came together and decided, to keep their currencies stable, to link their currencies to the US Dollar. And the US Dollar would be linked to gold. And obviously, the Allied countries won WWII.
And the US Dollar became the International Currency. After this, organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations were established. Where in America played a very important role. GATT was one such endeavor. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It was founded in 1947 by 23 countries. These countries decided, in order to boost their Economic Growth, they would reduce the trade barriers among them.
Meaning: instead of promoting “Swadeshi” (Indigenous products) and Nationalism, they would promote International Trade and Globalization. This was later made into WTO in 1995. After 1950, America and the Soviet Union emerged as the two main Superpowers. And here began the Cold War. The war between the USA and the Soviet Union is known as the Cold War.
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This was an ideological war.
Between Communism and Capitalism. But instead of fighting directly, They had a Proxy War. Instead of fighting in their own countries They started fighting in other countries. In the countries where the USA thought that Communist ideas were gaining traction it went and toppled governments. Sometimes by monetarily funding the opposition. Sometimes by funding terrorist rebel groups. Sometimes even directly assassinating revolutionaries. Like in the 1964 Bolivian Coup. Where Che Guevara was executed by the operatives of the CIA. In Operation Cyclone,
The Taliban militants of Afghanistan were funded to stop the influence of the Soviet Union.
And that’s the reason terrorist groups were created here. Similar stories were seen in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Iran, Congo, Dominican Republic. There are several other examples from these countries. Because of interfering in the internal politics of so many countries, several countries became directly dependent on the USA. And so America became even more powerful.
This is the reason why today there are more than 800 American military bases in more than 70 countries. To achieve all this during the Cold War, America had to spend a lot of money on its military. And that’s why America’s military power is the best in the world today. And this isn’t totally good. I’ll tell you why at the end of the article.
In 1949 America formed the NATO Alliance with the European countries to stop the influence of the Soviet Union. This NATO Alliance still exists. Because of this, America has always been cooperative with the West European countries. And most of the West European countries were heavily dependent on America for so many years. Because their own economies were destroyed. America was quite powerful.
To blame the entire country for these adverse effects wouldn’t be right. Because numerous Presidents were sworn in in the USA. Some of these Presidents focused on military power. Like Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George Bush and Donald Trump. On the other hand, some Presidents focused on forming peaceful alliances.
And they weren’t too interested in the military. Because of them, the country has grown peacefully. Like Al Gore, a Vice President of the USA, Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Woodrow Wilson was the President of the US who decided to keep America out of WWI.
And he interfered in 1917 only when it was evident that the war would end with America’s interference. He forced the League of Nations. It was an international body like the United Nations established before the United Nations in an attempt to bring peace to the whole world.
During the Cold War, the world map looked like this. Nearly every country had teamed up with either America with the Soviet Union. So it wasn’t surprising when nearly all the countries had chosen to team up with either of the countries, both the countries grew much more powerful.
Both the countries became Superpowers. After the 1990s when the Soviet Union disintegrated, There remained, obviously, only one Superpower in the world. That was America. All these reasons were geopolitical. But there were other internal reasons as well because of which America could become such a powerful Superpower. One such internal reason is that the American policies always attracted talent. It attracted good immigrants to their country.
There are so many examples of this. And these reasons are valid even today. Think about it. Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Satya Nadela. How many such Indians became successful after going to America? Albert Einstein, a German, became popular after going to America. Elon Musk, a South African, came to America and became so successful. America’s policies and its culture encourages talent.
Promotes innovation. But even after becoming such a powerful Superpower, friends, What is the ground reality of a common American? The homeownership rate in America was only 65.8% in 2020. More than 30% of Americans do not own houses. America is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The top 1% of the people own 42.5% of the country’s wealth. The healthcare system of America is very expensive and inadequate. The obesity levels have reached unthinkable highs in America.
Many students can’t afford their college tuition fees. A college education is so expensive in America that the student debts are in millions. Additionally, there are no proper gun laws in America. More than 600 mass shootings took place within a year! in America in 2020. More than 3,000 people died because of it.
Instead of spending so much on the military had America spent the money on the development of its citizens, being a Superpower might’ve meant something. Today, countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, have surpassed America by a lot in terms of human development. But these countries are not known as Superpowers. It may be because these countries aren’t as powerful economically.
Their military isn’t as powerful. But for a common man to live his life is better in these Nordic countries in comparison to living in America. If there is any lesson in this article it will be that a country should not strive to be a Superpower. It should focus on making itself better. It should focus on improving the lives of its citizens. Let the dream of being a Superpower remain that; a dream.
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