The U.S. has the largest national economy in the world with nominal GDP estimated to be above $ 15 trillion (in the year 2011). This figure accounts for approximately 25% of the world’s GDP. Apart from being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the U.S. also has an abundant supply of natural resources and good infrastructure, which accounts for its high productivity. Moreover, the U.S. is the world’s second largest producer of natural gas and the third world’s largest producer of oil. Add this to the fact that the US dollar is the widely traded international currency. This means that anything happening to the US economy (substantially) affects the global economy, as well. Without doubt, this puts the U.S economy in an enviable position which attracts the attention of world politics.
The success of the U.S economy draws admiration from both global foes and friends. In international relations, wealth and power are two things interlinked together. Each nation tries to realign its policies towards the major centers of global power. This forms the basis of shaping economic alliances and trade partnerships (Kaarbo and Ray 41). It also influences other factors such as voting during international forums.
The U.S goes to considerable lengths to protect its freedom for commerce and common defense. United States foreign policy aims to protect the constitutional system and the interests of the American people. America’s foreign policy has been the genesis of endless struggles with countries such as Iran and Russia. It has also attracted the wrath of terrorists who are opposed to the United States dominance as the global power. The September 11th (2001) attack is a key pointer on why some people are quite uncomfortable with the US economic might and political supremacy. The attackers send a message that they felt oppressed and marginalized by the US global power relations (Kegley 76). It is worth noting that the attacks were carried out on the pillars of the economy and the military. Before, September 2001, World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were the main symbols of the economic and military strength in the US. By hitting both the WTC and the Pentagon at the same time, the attackers send a message that the US economic and military power could be brought down.
The US government viewed the September 11th attacks not only as an attempt to bring down economic and military pillar, but also an attempt to bring down civilization. This enabled the government to enlist the support of other governments sharing the same ideology. As a consequence, this formed the basis for recognizing that terrorism was now a global phenomenon. US allies have been at the forefront in taking precautionary measures aimed at countering terrorism.
In the present-day society, nearly all the world nations are affected by what happens in other states. In some instances, the effects may be as a result of political consequences, but to a great extent the interdependence is economic in nature and depends on the trade of goods and services. The policies adopted by the US have wide reaching effects on the growth of imports and exports in many countries (Hurrell and Woods 89). The US promotes free trade with foreign nations and tries as much as possible to stimulate the domestic economy. The recognition that nations have to come together to foster trade between them led to the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is United States brainchild in conjunction with other western nations.
Some countries contend that, without subsides, their industries would collapse due to stiff foreign competition. They fear that if WTO opens up their markets, the nascent industries in their nations would be exposed and thus their interests would be in jeopardy. On the other hand, multinational businesses hope that WTO will heed their calls and lower the barriers thus speeding up economic liberalization. Also, there are developed countries contending that the WTO should enforce the labor and environmental laws applied to the developed countries. In effect, this would facilitate the free flow of commodities and services as well as capital.
Apart from the WTO, there are other international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank whereby countries exercise global supremacy in supporting or contravening policies put forth by the US. All the industrial countries are permanent members in the leading international bodies and voting is weighted to reflect their financial dominance (Hurrell and Woods 103). The US is the largest economy in the world and plays a key role in international politics and economy. This coupled with globalization poses a danger to some nations.
Some countries are of the opinion that globalization fosters inequality in the world. They argue that globalization has only increased the gap between the rich and poor nations. As a consequence, the divide between the nations with political power and influence and those without still continues to exist. The result of this has been a struggle to realign key factors, which give countries such as the US competitive advantage. On the other hand, the US views this as an attempt to sabotage the economy (Kaarbo and Ray 114). The powerful countries shape events such as the global rules on investment, military security, environment and social policy.
Cooperation in world politics depends on the interests of the nation in question. In order to make key decisions, collective action is required thus the countries enlist the support of the countries which share ideological similarities. This arises from the need to achieve some objectives multilaterally. The efforts to address issues such as climate change and third world debt have faced stiff resistance from some countries because of mistrust and the need to protect each country’s strategic issues (Keohane 218). The scrabble for countries with natural resources has seen some countries water down their demands for cooperating with other countries.
Industrial nations know that they must have access to some key natural resources to power their economies. Africa is one of the continents with vast amounts of resources that remain unexploited. The entry of China into Africa has seen some unprecedented change in geopolitical events. China wants to exploit the natural resources while avoiding issues such as the gross violation of human rights. A good example is the economic partnership between China and Zimbabwe. In the recent years, China has become a key ally of Zimbabwe after the US and Britain placed economic sanctions on the country.
Other African countries with a not so good human rights record have also taken this route. For its economic and monetary support, China gets to work on infrastructural projects in those countries and gets unlimited access to drill oil, gas and minerals. This helps to boost profitability of Chinese companies and assists the increasing number of Chinese graduates to get jobs.
Any key decision made in the US to alter its fiscal policy has a substantial effect on the world. For example, decisions made on issues such as debt reverberate through the world economy for years. Therefore, the United States economic might has been the centre-stage of global politics (Wolf 34). Some countries see the dominance of the US economy as a threat to their interests, and thus they have taken diametrical steps to counter the US influence. In the recent years, China has been the major stumbling block to US foreign policy. China’s strategy is to harness its economic potential through any means, even if it means entering into an economic partnership with a draconian regime. Although the collapse of the Soviet Union has seen the unprecedented penetration of globalization in most countries, other countries are concerned about the stiff competition posed by companies from the industrial nations. This has been the basis for failure to open up some markets to foreign investors.
Hurrell, Andrew and Ngaire Woods. Inequality, Globalization, and World Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.
Kaarbo, Juliet and James Lee Ray. Global Politics. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Kegley, Charles W. World Politics: Trend and Transformation. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Keohane, Robert O. After Hegemony: Cooperation And Discord In The World Political Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. Print.
Spero, Joan Edelman and Jeffrey A. Hart. The Politics of International Economic Relations. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
Wolf, Charles. Fears of the WTO's Influence Are Greatly Exaggerated. 9 April 2000. 29 November 2012