A Great Power is in political science a nation that is recognized as being capable of exerting influence on a global scale. This being through either economic influence, military influence, or diplomatic - soft power - influence. Great Powers are often recognized in international treaties such as the peace accord that ended the Great War. Though, given the guidelines of a Great Power, the status of being one is often fluid and is dependent on a great deal of their exercising of power.
The concept of the Great Power has existed since the post-Napoleonic era of Europe, in which the major nations were referred to as the "Concert of Europe". At this time the Great Powers were: The Austrian Empire, British Empire, France, Prussia, and the Russian Empire.
A Great Power is also a state smaller ones may turn to for advice or support in a matter.
History and ConceptEdit
The Great Power as a concept and term was first discussed scholarly and diplomatically in the Congress of Vienna. Here the European Powers defined a "Concert Europe" that would maintain an era of peace in post-Napoleonic Europe.
Conceptually, the Great Power exists on three different dimensions: the Spacial, Power, and Status dimension.
The Spacial Dimension in international politics, especially in reference to a nation is the ability of a country to project its influence and power over a broader area. Whether because it directly occupies a large area, or it is capable of influencing the events outside of its mother territory. Those nations which can only exert power or influence in a small area are delegated primarily as being regional powers, since their scope does not stretch beyond their regional - or cultural - limitations.
The Power Dimension is unarguably the central pillar of being a Great Power, as it is through the exertion of power that a Great Power may preserve itself internationally, or exert hegemony over a large and more diverse sphere. Power is obviously, and classically anchored in a powerful and capable military that can serve to preserve the nation, and to help directly exert its ability over a broad range.
Though, in being a core criteria of the Great Power the Power Dimension is subject to subjective though and has been examined by a multitude of pre-Great War analysists seeking to define the nature of power in this case. Though in the end the definition of this Dimension has been seen of being able to exert its influence through the far-scope of international politics.
It may be finally argued that in order to achieve Great Power status, a nation must act as being a Great Power, exerting its influence successfully over a wide-scope, or being seen as being one by the other Great Powers. In this effect: nations must have a fair share of prestige among the international community, enough so to be looked up to by their contemporaries and approached with a respect of power by the others.
Though relying on the image of a nation in the eyes of its contemporaries as being a signature of being a Great Power may in itself be subject to the political biases of the nations observing it does not make a perfect system. Alternatively, the ability of a nation to actually declare itself a Great Power is often unpracticed as nations have patterned themselves as not declaring themselves as such, analysists instead must examine the actions of the nation to determine if their patterns are inclusive of a Great Power: does their action extend beyond the scope of their region? Have they imposed a great deal of influence during diplomatic affairs?
Great Powers of 1970Edit
The 1970's is an era different from other eras in that in the span several decades it has watched two of the world's traditional Great Powers fall to dust. In fifties-sixties the ability of the British Empire to maintain itself from within lead to the collapse of its international Empire, the abolition of its monarchy, and its industrial and commercial ability being greatly scarred from the decades of anarchy and civic, and legislative mis-management, that has also largely effected its ability to exert itself internationally.
Additionally, the Empire of Russia collapsed unexpectedly in the 1970's after the Czar and his direct heirs were slain tragically by Finnish Nationalists.
In addition to the surprising shift of other budding powers, the 1970's has created an immense Power Gap between several of their Great Powers which begs to argue if they could be one in the traditional sense.
The Communist New People's China is one of the premier Great Powers of the contemporary period. Having exited several decades of civil war the rising influence of the Communist regime hadn't begun to be felt until the 70's when the nation began to exert itself first a regional power while ousting the French from Indochina, establishing, supporting, and aiding Communist Revolutionaries in Russia pre and post Imperial Collapse, and butted heads with the United States during the their campaign on the Philippines.
It has also challenged and beat the other contemporary Great Power in the region: the Empire of Japan, and preserved.
By 1975/1976 China continued to climb through and had attracted the United States and Mexico to its ability as a potential partner, helping to bring them into the Asian Socialist Bloc.
The Spanish hold as being another rising Great Power. Flexing their might during the Great War they made territorial gains on their contemporaries. In recent days, they field one of the most expansive corporate enterprises in Europe in addition to a well armed and aggressive military policy.
It should be noted that upon this list the Turkish Empire is under threat of dropping in rank given the instability within as bred by nationalist rebellion, cementing its cliche of being the Sick Man of Europe and being the only peg that prevents a continuing shift of power from west to east.
Of additional interest is of that of the USSA and Brazil, who make the tail end if only on the virtue of the ancient powers having left the field in recent history and left behind an immense Power Gap. In each nation's state, their ability to appropriately flex influence outside of their region is in question, and Brazil's preservation is on question due to recent political instability it's facing from within. The US's ability is hindered primarily from a formally outdated military, loss of its colonies, and invasions by Canada which has robbed it of large tracts of potentially resource rich land.
The "Shift East" is a hypothetical situation as-of-yet un-noted in current political theory and may be spoken of about the Ottoman Empire, which if it collapses is suggestive that its replacement would be the Persians, who would gain most of their political collapse and division. This presents the remaining European nations in the fearful situation that their western dominance may be coming to a close as the shift of power moves East-bound to join growing Chinese hegemony.