From Academic Kids

A hyperpower is a powerful country that is vastly stronger than any potential rival. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the world's only superpower. Many thus call it a hyperpower in order to indicate a differing world order from the politics of the great powers of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the superpowers that suceeded them during the Cold War.

The term ‘hyperpower’ was popularised by French foreign minister Hubert Védrine in the 1990s in an effort to explain what had replaced the dominance by superpowers and great powers of international relations. As of 2004, the United States has a military strength comparable to the combined military strengths of the next seventeen nations. In cultural and economic spheres it is also dominant. Thus some observers have termed this a hyperpower era in which other powers are having to learn how to deal with the United States, while the United States has to learn how to wield its power responsibly. Others, such as Samuel P. Huntington, disagree with this account, seeing ours as a multipolar world, with many dormant and developing World powers, as well as a greater influence on World politics from regional powers.

Some people believe that whilst the United States has an enormous military advantage over its rivals and any possible contender for superpower status, it is only a matter of time before states such as the People's Republic of China, Russia, India, or Brazil, or international organisations such as the European Union, equal or even surpass the United States economically, or militarily, or both (In fact, according to some sets of figures, the economy of the European Union is already larger than the economy of the U.S., though the EU is not a "nation state" by any definition). It should be noted that although the EU economy is as large as that of the U.S., the European Union has a far lower per capita GDP than the United States, and the EU requires unanimity for any major foreign policy decision, thus ruling out any "superpower" or "hyperpower" status. In fact, of all the members of the EU, only one member state out of twenty-five (Luxembourg) has a larger per capita GDP than the U.S.. Some people believe that while countries such as China may eventually surpass the U.S. in total GDP, it will not rival the U.S. in per capita GDP in the foreseeable future.

However, others contend that the unique position of the United States (at least in terms of military force) will lead it to seek to ensure permanent dominance and, ultimately, global control through advanced military technologies, such as space weaponry, that would be virtually impossible to defend against. The United States Department of Defense has outlined a program to achieve "Full-spectrum dominance" in their Joint Vision 2020 document. While some see this as a natural and neutral outgrowth of American power, others see this ambition as a worrisome situation, arguing that an overwhelmingly powerful nation would have little or no reason not to abuse its power and even become a world empire.

In a world with multiple superpowers, of course, the United States would no longer be a hyperpower.

See also



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