Last Updated 29 Mar 2017

Measure Power- International Relations

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Answer to Question 1 Power in international relations is measured first by the economic standing of the states involved, that is, by the state’s current economic status. Immanuel Wallerstein proposed that economic power may well be the key to understanding power relations between countries belonging from the First and Third World; the latter as source of raw materials and skilled manpower and the former the producer of finished product

Those countries which have a large military have the high probability of compelling other countries (which have relatively weaker armed force) to obey its political will. --- A state can be powerful in three different senses: economic, geographical, and militarily. A large country may have a considerable bargaining power in international relations as in the case of China; a military state like the Soviet Union and an economic power like Germany.

Answer to Question 2 During ancient times, power is roughly measured by the geographical size of a state. The terms “empire, kingdom, vassal state, and satraps (vassal kingdoms)” prove that saliency of state size as a factor of power. During the middle ages, the same can be applied but with much modification. Those kingdoms and duchies close to the Roman See were given special favors (such as blessings to be crowned the next king or duke), hence they become powerful. In modern times, technology and high economic output (GNP) is the measurement of power; as reasons stated earlier (only the predominant measurement of power is recognized).

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Answer to Question 3 Both countries have large armed forces, with a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. The United States is an economic power, while the Soviet Union has faced serious economic turndowns. US is the “leader” of NATO and USSR of the Warsaw Pact countries – the former is more solid and militarily efficient, and the latter of loose military federation of countries. Nevertheless, in world history, both countries were deemed as superpowers for their ability to compel other nations to obey its political agenda.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The Modern World System. 2nd volume. New York Academic Press.



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