Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nominal Superpower

What if the U.S. fails to perceive the potential that their superpower status is only nominally so? In other words, what if projections and calculations of how power is distributed is viewed from one plane of perception, while emerging global interactions occur on an entirely different plane? This is the beginning of a line of thought that came to mind while reading Kissinger's World Order and Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

I will try to expand this thought over the coming weeks as we take a look at a couple more books this month. But, something occurred to me while reading Gibbon's history. We analyze great empires and superpowers from the perspective that their power declined, whether in real terms or in relative terms. Many times, that was true. However, could a superpower change from being dominant along many levels - economics, military strength, values, ideas - to one in which their superpower status is only nominally so. What if that superpower status does not really matter? That would be an entirely different plane in which to perceive new and different orders of international relations.