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How Do Superpowers Exert Their Influence?

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Submitted By mchin
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Power can be maintained directly or indirectly, this has changed over time. In the past, those who had power maintained it almost exclusively through direct control (e.g. colonisation), yet in the present day power is maintained mostly through indirect control (e.g. neo-colonial models of influence, for example trade, aid and debt).

The main way that superpowers would impose direct control on more vulnerable territories in the past would be through colonialism. They would use war and their superior military power to gain control of these territories to impose their own mechanisms such as legal systems, culture and economics.

In the past, this would often be done to fulfil a superpower's own agendas, such as the exploitation of raw materials or cheap labour; however in recent decades there has been a shift towards more political agendas. Many superpowers or major powers now intervene in troublesome regions that they believe may threaten their superpower security.

Whilst rare, superpowers do still take full colonial control of some countries in extreme circumstances- for example the NATO led coalition taking control of Afghanistan in 2001.

In recent decades, there has been a shift towards more indirect control. Superpowers now use more subtle, 'roundabout' ways to impose their influence and power on other territories, in essence 'neo-colonial' control. The three main examples of this are aid, trade and debt.

Aid is often given to allies or 'friends' with whom the superpower wants to create or maintain certain relationships. A lot of aid is, in fact, supposed to be paid back to the country who supplied it. This means countries which receive aid are often in debt to superpowers. Some superpowers use this wisely, offering aid to countries that perhaps have no choice but to accept it, but will in future be able to be manipulated because of their debt to the superpower.

As previously mentioned, some aid is in fact owed back in the form of a debt to the superpowers that have offered the aid. This channels money from the developing world into the developed world, increasing polarisation between the two. Not only do the economies of the developing and developed world become more polarised, but so does their power. As the developing countries pay money back to the superpowers of the developed world, they become more vulnerable as the superpowers gain more power. This leads to superpowers having a greater power over these vulnerable territories. Debt relief schemes such as the HIPC are often still exerting control over the countries paying back their debt- in order to qualify for the scheme; they must follow certain rules, certain policies of bankers in the developed world.…...

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