Superpower rhetoric and reality

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shiv
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Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby shiv » 01 Jan 2013 07:17

The poll is merely to kick off discussion on something that I have noticed for years. India is described as an "aspiring superpower" or similar terms. The latest comes from Hemant Kumar Rout in a missiles article. A lie when repeated often enough becomes the truth. Lies that have affected India by constant repetition are the Aryan Invasion myth, the myth of treating all Muslims badly or the myth occupying Kashmir illegally.

"India is an aspiring superpower" is a similar myth and lie that is often used sarcastically point out and say what is wrong with India. India is an aspiring superpower but imports 70% of its arms. India is an aspiring superpower but cannot feed her people. India is an aspiring superpower but women are treated badly. The point I am making is that on the occasions when India takes strong action like killing terrorists on the border or sending a force out near Somalia, Maldives or Sri Lanka - that is always described as intimidation of neighboring countries by the Indian bully. But when someone counts the toilets in India and finds Indians defecating in the open, or hears of a delay in LCA or a failed missile test, he instantly remembers to call India an "aspiring superpower"

There us a double level of myth and obfuscation here:
1. What the heck is a superpower?
2. If India is sure about the definition of superpower, what on earth makes anyone imagine that India is trying to live up to that definition?

The first point is to try and define what the heck "superpower" means. the next step is to see if
a It is in India's interest to become a superpower as per that definition
b. Is India trying to do that?

Hence the definition of superpower poll

I can see no clarity among Indians on what a superpower means. The poll is to see what people think it means to be a superpower and later discuss why anyone thinks India is "aspiring" to be a superpower.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby RamaY » 01 Jan 2013 07:31

I voted option 4 for the following reason.

By having an UNSC vote the nation can achieve multiple objectives -
1. Economic favors - in return for moral support in international affairs. It is a double edged sword but is a worthy tool, nevertheless.
2. Geopolitical influence - that other powers seek Indian support in various geopolitical discussions, thus giving a voice to Indian perspective.
3. More than anything it can given the power of stopping unnecessary discussions in the realm of supreme Indian interests.

Here UNSC permanent membership with veto power is the positional power I am talking about. If tomorrow it is founding membership of United states of south Asia, so be it.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby alexis » 01 Jan 2013 11:41

Is UK or France a superpower? Both have permanent UNSC membership.

Both military and economic power is needed to be called a superpower.
Earlier, superpowers created empires. Now, creating an empire is not possible; but imposing its will on other nations is the norm.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby alexis » 01 Jan 2013 11:47

Now, wrt the topic, i dont believe India is an aspiring superpower. We will not be a superpower for atleast 20-25 years. India also need not aim to be a superpower. We should aim for economic upliftment and enough military to protect itself from outside threats. India has been a self-content nation in the past. I hope it will be so in the future.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby kapilrdave » 01 Jan 2013 12:23

I would like to have a 5th option here. "Cultural influence/penetration across the world".
More than anything, US has spread its culture more or less in entire world. Almost everyone knows their president's name, their festivals, major cities names, sports, movies etc. Military and economy is for the leaders of the nation. But it is the culture that affects the abduls. US may or may not be able to strangle India or for that matter any other country by military or economic power. But they surely have penetrated their culture in us. I want India doing that to other countries. We have enjoyed that position for centuries in the past and now its the time to retake it. For me, super power means "Vishwa Guru". Nothing more, nothing less.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby GeorgeWelch » 01 Jan 2013 14:03

It means whatever the author intends it to mean.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Misraji » 01 Jan 2013 14:08

Global clout (Military AND Economic) AFTER ensuring a DECENT standard of living for all its citizens.

--Ashish

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Hari Seldon » 01 Jan 2013 15:00

These sooperpower asspirations have clearly been forced down India's throat to embarass the country in the comity of nations (any more than we already are embarassed only). We never were or will be a superpower. There, I just said it, and its such a massive burden lightened only. Whew.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby prahaar » 01 Jan 2013 15:06

Shivji, did you purposely define Super Power in a sense US sees itself as one? There could be other forms of becoming a great nation that serves its people specifically and the world generally well, and provides possibility for a decent life.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Pratyush » 01 Jan 2013 17:53

Voted 1, as that is the most complete definition of the phrase superpower.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby manjgu » 01 Jan 2013 18:13

in addition to all that has been said a Superpower shuld have a attitude and ability to take a stand on an issue. and not be scared to take sides decisively on matters and have an opinon on issues. and be willing to take military, diplomatic and political action. addiitonally it should have good internal security situation. i think India is faaaaaaaaaaaar away on these counts, we just dont have mentality of a superpower.

there is no standard of living for its citizens, no secure energy resources ( dependent on outside world), defence forces which are largely dependent on imports ( with very limited indegenous capability), a non effectual diplomatic corps, apparent ignorance what is long term national interest and how to secure it.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Sanku » 01 Jan 2013 18:17

1 sounds reasonable, apart from the "occupied territories" bit --> occupying some unfriendly parts, may be a result of being a super power, but is not a necessary condition to be one.

The others are necessary, if they are not present, the country is probably not a superpower.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby manjgu » 01 Jan 2013 18:21

we are at best a south asian power ( SAARC) .. most optimistic view on this matter.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Sanku » 01 Jan 2013 18:23

manjgu wrote:in addition to all that has been said a Superpower shuld have a attitude and ability to take a stand on an issue. and not be scared to take sides decisively on matters and have an opinon on issues. and be willing to take military, diplomatic and political action. addiitonally it should have good internal security situation. i think India is faaaaaaaaaaaar away on these counts, we just dont have mentality of a superpower.

there is no standard of living for its citizens, no secure energy resources ( dependent on outside world), defence forces which are largely dependent on imports ( with very limited indegenous capability), a non effectual diplomatic corps, apparent ignorance what is long term national interest and how to secure it.


I completely agree, that the soft power part of being a power (let alone super) is missing from all descriptions in the above. The identity and manifest destiny are the precursor to the Mil and Economic bits.

They should be there to begin with.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby RamaY » 01 Jan 2013 19:24

Kwchen 432.

Who is going to help India achieve each of these options? US, GCC, China, Pakistan, Congress etc., so voters can make more informed choices please.

My vote is to make piss with Pakistan because they are going to help us with Option 4.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby shiv » 01 Jan 2013 19:38

prahaar wrote:Shivji, did you purposely define Super Power in a sense US sees itself as one? There could be other forms of becoming a great nation that serves its people specifically and the world generally well, and provides possibility for a decent life.


No. Great Britain was exactly like that. The USSR was almost there. Portugal and France too had similar characteristics. But before the industrial revolution, global clout was either absent, or it remains unknown. Various entities including India, China. Assyria and later the Islamic Caliphate have had clout, but not of the type that came after the industrial revolution.

But these are my views? Do you have something else in mind? Pleas say what you think.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby shiv » 01 Jan 2013 19:46

Sanku wrote:1 sounds reasonable, apart from the "occupied territories" bit


Sanku. Think Hawaii, Diego Garcia, Falklands, Hong Kong (until recently), French Guyana, Canary Islands, Gibraltar, New Caledonia. Bases (colonies/protectorates)+Aircraft carriers = global force projection

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby GeorgeWelch » 01 Jan 2013 20:05

shiv wrote:
Sanku wrote:1 sounds reasonable, apart from the "occupied territories" bit


Sanku. Think Hawaii, Diego Garcia, Falklands, Hong Kong (until recently), French Guyana, Canary Islands, Gibraltar, New Caledonia. Bases (colonies/protectorates)+Aircraft carriers = global force projection



What makes a territory 'occupied' vs not?

You mention Hawaii, presumably because it was taken from original inhabitants. But it's a full State. By that standard the entire US could be regarded as 'occupied' territory, not a particularly useful definition.

The West Bank is prime example of 'occupied' territory because Israel doesn't claim they own it, yet they enforce their will (to some extent) in it.

I think you could leave it at 'a global network of bases' without resorting to the pejorative term 'occupied'.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby shiv » 01 Jan 2013 20:26

GeorgeWelch wrote:You mention Hawaii, presumably because it was taken from original inhabitants. But it's a full State.


Oh yes its a state, and a very conveniently located one for force projection - a fact that was recognized by the Japanese when they cordially invited the US to join World War 2 by bombing Pearl Harbor.

Whether an overseas territory is a "full state" or a "protectorate" or an "ally", the global power projection needs of a power can be fulfilled by that territory. Is the possession of such territories necessary for a country to be called a superpower? if yes, vote 1 above. If no - vote any of the other choices.

The idea is only ask what people think "superpower" means and to ask why some people want to describe India as having "superpower aspirations"? What aspiration to become what? And who aspires to that?

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby shiv » 01 Jan 2013 20:28

manjgu wrote:in addition to all that has been said a Superpower shuld have a attitude and ability to take a stand on an issue. and not be scared to take sides decisively on matters and have an opinon on issues. and be willing to take military, diplomatic and political action. addiitonally it should have good internal security situation. i think India is faaaaaaaaaaaar away on these counts, we just dont have mentality of a superpower.

there is no standard of living for its citizens, no secure energy resources ( dependent on outside world), defence forces which are largely dependent on imports ( with very limited indegenous capability), a non effectual diplomatic corps, apparent ignorance what is long term national interest and how to secure it.


So would you say that people who write that India has superpower aspirations are setting up a straw man that they can proceed to knock down?

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby johneeG » 01 Jan 2013 20:29

Overwhelming power of any kind...whether it be economic, military, political, diplomatic, social, cultural, religious, or a combination of one or all of these factors...

The critical point is not what kind(s) of power it is. The critical point is whether it can overwhelm the others and make them do what we want them to do.

Generally, no tactic works without the backing of military power. Economic, diplomatic, social, cultural, political, religious...powers need military power to propagate and perpetuate.

The best method is direct occupation. If that is not possible, then the puppet/vassal is the secondary option. If even that is not possible, then alliances(by carrot and stick) are the next option.

But, at some point, other powers have to be developed to perpetuate one's 'super-power-dom' without having to resort to military power...

---
I did not vote because there was no option of 'overwhelming power of any kind'.

---
Shiv saar,
great initiative...

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby SwamyG » 01 Jan 2013 20:39

Economy. Military. The third important factor is 'culture'. A super power is able to project its culture onto others. The colonial powers did that. USA and Soviet did it in the past. USA continues to spread
americanism'. India did this in its past too, via Buddhism. A power without cultural influence IMO is not a super power.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby manjgu » 01 Jan 2013 21:06

@shiv.. yes, the people who talk abt superpower are just fooling the indian populace, setting up straw man.. ( maybe they dont want to proceed to knock it down..as it suits them to harp on this theme..). Met quite a few nutcases who believe we are already a superpower ... usually the IT vity type.. who think a few lines of SQL code sent overseas is a fair indicator of superpower status

SwamyG@ cultural influence.. important but highly overrated.. what kind of cultural influence did USSR have?? or what kind of cultural influence does china have ( though its still not a superpower)?

my take .. in deceasing order of importance

Mind set of a superpower( ability to take unpleasant decisions, take a stand on issues) > economic power ( high per capita income levels and also gross GDP) > military strength ( indegenous and power projection capability)> cultural influence

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby yantra » 01 Jan 2013 22:05

India never aspires to be (Indians only wish)/will ever be a super-power by these definitions.

It is at best aspiring to be a soft power exerting its cultural influence - movies, music, philosophy, yoga, etc., all the while trying to better the lives of its subjects (yeah, trust me, that is the objective!). It can at best be a large economic power, taking care of its defenses, at best.

I do not foresee a situation where India will invade far-off lands and send expeditionary forces to occupy invaded lands. India will not become like an USA if that is the definition of a super-power, policing the world. UNSC seat or otherwise, India's soft power is poised to grow - she will always try to attain a moral high-ground to use it as an influencer/to preach others ("vasudhaiva kutumbikam"), and she will (almost) never exert her military prowess to impress her will on others - be it China, UK, Bhutan or Maldives.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Viv S » 01 Jan 2013 22:16

First off lets drop the US altogether as a benchmark for becoming a superpower. The USSR is a far better example if such an entity's strengths and limitations are to be studied.


1. Militarily; Hugely capable. In conjunction with the rest of the Warsaw pact an equal to the US and NATO in Europe. Moderate expeditionary capabilities (centred around airborne rather than marine forces).

2. Economically; Moderately strong. Pivoted on oil exports. Standard of living well below OECD levels. By 1980, Japan had overtaken the USSR to become the second largest economy in the world.

3. Diplomatically; Moderately strong. Home of the global communist movement and therefore exercising commensurate influence particularly in the developing world. Reputation as a superpower remained intact despite waning influence by the late 80s.

4. Culturally; Weak. No lasting legacy.



Conclusion: The USSR's superpower status can be put down primarily to its military strength coupled with moderate economic strength.

By the same yardstick, India is already on its way to becoming a superpower given that it already exceeds all Western European powers militarily, and within a decade will overtake them economically while thoroughly eclipsing them in the military sphere.

The flipside is that these definitions applied to the fractured Cold War world. Thanks to globalization, absolute military strength matters less than it did at any point in history. The term 'superpower' itself may be heading towards redundancy with the rise of regional security blocs like the ASEAN, USAN/UNASUR, CIS/CSTO as well as existing alliances in the EU/NATO and FPDA/ANZUS etc.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby asprinzl » 01 Jan 2013 23:34

In every human endeavor apparently moderation is what ensures longetivity. Europe went around occupying land after land. So arrogant and so confident in their ventures. What resulted? They openned their own gates to the colonized natives. Arrogant and confident that they could absorb/assimilate them all with thier superior culture and technology. Now Europeans are facing demographic extinction and slowly being colonized demographically by the very folks they colonized militarily and economically.

The Turks created vast empires encompassing Europe and Asia. What resulted? Most of those who claim to be Turks today are mostly the progeny of Euro stock. The original Turkish stock has almost disappeared apart from the CAS region. The Arabs ventured all over the known land conquering and occupying other cultures and land. Yeah they spread their religion and culture all over but they also brought millions of women from everywhere as slaves....mostly sexual slaves. What resulted? The original Arab gene is probably just a tiny minority in the Middle East. The vast majority are non-Arabs with Arabic culture. Over confidence, arrogance and over-reach.....never a good thing.

America...so powerful, so confident and so wealthy. They were so wealthy that they got rid of the gold system and had so much confident in their economy that they openned it up to sundry every others in the world. They were so sure of their economic prowess that they instead of living within their means began living beyond their means. They were so wealthy that they thought they can pay back all the borrowed money. And look where they are now? Could not efford to fight a low tech war with rag tag Taliban because by investing in high priced/high precision ordnances they have hiked up the price of war fighting for themselves without increasing the cost of warfare on the enemy.

The other day I was talking to a friend and the talk turned into kids. His wife is pregnant with third kid and he was already stressed about health insurance, child care etc et etc. So this is what economic power means? What is the meaning of creating wealth? Just increasing the cost of having a family? What is the meaning of a superpower......is it part of sending elderly parents to elderly care and you visit them once in a while? What is the meaning of economic power? One can own a cell phone but cannot have a decent family under a roof?

Moderation is the key in life. Sugar is sweet. Too much sugar and you will have diebetes. Salt is important but too much salt can cause health complication. Fat is tasty but too much fat is not good either.

In the final calculation....the meaning of life is about propagation of the species. That is the only reason we are here. We evolved to reproduce. Every species in this planet. First it was about the propagation of the humanoids. Then the propagation and survival of the tribe. The ethnic group. It does not make sense to be a superpower of any kind if that results in the destruction of your own ethnic species.

The Caucasian population is shrinking in the USA and it is going down at a faster rate in Europe. The most alarming is Russia. In the next 50 years Iran will be a Turkish majority state. Turkey will be a Kurdish majority state in about 30 years. These are all failed or failing superpowers. Greeks were such a power many years ago? 100 years from now there probably wont be a Greek. Where are the original Romans? They were so confident about the power of their imperial order that they granted Roman citizenship to everyone from everyland occupied by Rome. It allowed these cirizens to travel and settle in any corner of the empire. Most wanted to settle in Rome. The original Roman had disappeared into thin air. Just a few remain here and there. Latin is a dead language. Most Italians today are or Germanic descent. The very people Julius Ceasar tried to prevent from moving into italy.

Just my two shekels
Happy New Year.
Avram

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby chaanakya » 01 Jan 2013 23:44

Happy New year Avram
Perceptive thoughts and a good read. Thank You.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby member_23360 » 01 Jan 2013 23:49

^^ ++++++++++1
Moderation is the key in life. Sugar is sweet. Too much sugar and you will have diebetes. Salt is important but too much salt can cause health complication. Fat is tasty but too much fat is not good either.


ati sarvatra varjyet - excess is prohibited everywhere (hopes that i translated it correctly :) )

Happy New Year !!!!

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby negi » 02 Jan 2013 00:03

Mixing realpolitik with philosophy is a strict no no; for if you go philosophical for every debate you can say all is mithya, moh-maya onlee . One can then apply it to the syooper powel debate too. I like to see this super power tag from a common man's pov i.e. look at what our government did in the Norway child row without going into the case's details is it too much to expect for GoI to step in and support it's citizen's case ? If some American is involved the White House won't hesitate to resort to arm twisting or even bring in the rain. Even chawanni chaap countries like SL capture or at times even kill fishermen from our country; ghanta syooper power I say.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby member_23360 » 02 Jan 2013 02:10

US also do not support their citizens if it comes against their national interests like they did in recent case related to US citizens murder in 2008 attack.


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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby RamaY » 02 Jan 2013 02:41

Sponsors for each option.

Option 1 - USA
Option 2 - Russia
Option 3 - GCC
Option 4 - Pakistan
Option 5 = Cultural influence - UK + Dubai

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Bade » 02 Jan 2013 03:37

You cannot be a Superpower on Military Power and Economic size alone. What has not been mentioned so far is Technological innovation. Both USSR and USA had this in large measures. Same as UK too had it during its heydays. PRC is showing some signs of this but too early to say. This technological superiority is what drives military power with no outside dependence and a vibrant economy. The economy part was the weakness of the USSR.

India has none so far, so it is far from being even a medium power. PRC can become a medium or regional power in true sense. We are unfortunately very very far from it.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby member_20067 » 02 Jan 2013 04:25

A lack of corruption is also a major indicator... as long as massive corruption and lack of transparency exists..we will never be any power of any sorts...

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby SaiK » 02 Jan 2013 04:53

My option was 1, will always be.

Who cares about UNSC.. become the power! economic and military still alone will not fetch super power status within our country. People need more freedom and democracy.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby negi » 02 Jan 2013 05:12

akshat.kashyap wrote:US also do not support their citizens if it comes against their national interests like they did in recent case related to US citizens murder in 2008 attack.

Arrey baba check the context first; quoting one off cases to just do an equal equal does not make sense.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Vayutuvan » 02 Jan 2013 05:37

Global economic clout; global military force projection via distant bases, allies and occupied territories

I caste the vote for 1 with the above proviso - no occupied territories needed. Even bases may not be all that necessary.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby Vayutuvan » 02 Jan 2013 05:59

Bade wrote:You cannot be a Superpower on Military Power and Economic size alone. What has not been mentioned so far is Technological innovation.


Several tech innovations are driven by a need to subjugate natives and economically exploit their lands backed by military might - naval technology, map making and astrogation for finding sea routes to lands where there are easy pickings and subjugation through military means, roman road building, guns and rockets, and in recent times, Computers (outgrowth of Bletchley Park code breaking team, where Turing was employed), nuclear power (an outgrowth of the bomb), fighter jets, aircraft carriers, DARPA funded internet.

Of course, notable exceptions are Telephone, Light bulb, Polio Vaccine, Penicillin.
Last edited by Vayutuvan on 02 Jan 2013 06:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby SaiK » 02 Jan 2013 06:00

Good pointer there.. I think the super power thoughts are largely based on what Amrikka does. That is the problemo.

Is this a mil specific or strat specific reality check?

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Re: Superpower rhetoric and reality

Postby SwamyG » 02 Jan 2013 06:15

manjgu wrote:
SwamyG@ cultural influence.. important but highly overrated.. what kind of cultural influence did USSR have?? or what kind of cultural influence does china have ( though its still not a superpower)?

Chinese culture had influenced Japan, Korea and others in the South East Asia. This was before Commnuism and their present form of Government. Spread of Soviet culture was a limited Russification of the regions it annexed, plus a degree of communism. However unlike Americanism much of these were forced down on people. People seek Americanism. Chinese Emperors and people willingly sought Indian (Buddhist) literature and looked upon India, parts of Tibet and CAR regions.

A power with just military power is like a cop or rowdy. Other countries respect or fear. A power with economic power is like the rich people who are either looked with jealousy, envy or disdain. Sometimes inspirational. Only when clubbed with an offering of culture that other countries want to ape and love that country - like the cinema stars and celebrities. These are like the three legs of a three legged stool.


Bade: technology is a tool, no? Or do you think it is a characteristic?


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