Political Science – Indicators of Power


What is power? What are the indicators of power? In your own opinion which is the most important?

Power is a type of a relationship where an individual has the ability to influence the actions of others. One actor can influence the behaviors of others with or without resistance. Power is not necessarily unjust or evil but its influence can be coercive, competitive, cooperative, or attractive. 

The eight indicators of power are population, economy, military strength, territory, foreign relations, government, circulation, and natural resources. Military strength is one of the most important determinants of power. Military strength is evaluated in terms of quality and quantity of soldiers, military leadership, and war technology. Having a strong military implies that a country can advance its national interests and support its foreign policies (Chatterjee, 2010). The current superpower, the United States of America, holds the position because of its superiority in military strength. Also, a country such as Germany was victorious in the World War I over Britain because of its military superiority. 

Natural resources play a vital role in national power because they facilitate economic growth. The resources are gifts of nature but can be exploited to generate wealth. Natural resources are usually in form of fertile soils, flora and fauna, oil, minerals, and sources of water. The resources provide food for the population and are materials for producing goods (Chatterjee, 2010). Population is another determinant of power because a nation should have sufficient men for production and military purposes. It is impossible to exploit and use natural resources or achieve industrial development without manpower (Duncan et al., 2009). The economy of a country is another indicator and it affects other factors such cultural, social, political, and foreign relations. A strong economy can support a strong military and be influential in world politics (Duncan et al., 2009). 

The quality and organization of the government also determines power. For a state to be powerful, it should have effective strategies of coordinating human efforts, controlling men, and exploiting resources. Also, it is the government that decides and determines how it relates with other countries and an efficient government is likely to get allies (Chatterjee, 2010). Foreign relations imply that a country should have diplomacy of high quality for it to be persuasive in international relations. Diplomacy serves the interests of a nation by searching new markets for trade, protecting its citizens abroad, and soliciting foreign support (Duncan et al., 2009). The territory is another significant element of power. Territory is characterized by factors such as the boundaries, maps, size, location, topography, and climate. A large size implies that a nation can accommodate a high population and have access to vast resources. A strategic location such near the sea or being in isolation can confer several benefits. Additionally, the topography of a country determines its potential for growth, offense, and defense (Chatterjee, 2010). 

Government is the most important indicator of power. The quality of government, its organization, and leadership determines the effectiveness of a country in running its affairs. In the absence of a stable government, the possession of natural resources or being in a strategic location cannot guarantee power. A government is needed to direct the use of resources and coordinate human efforts. The government should have good leadership capable of providing effective civil and military planning. Leaders are the decision-makers and the decisions they make should be of national interest. Without an effective government and leadership, a country can become weak because it cannot achieve its interests or be influential in world politics (Chatterjee, 2010).

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  1. Chatterjee, A. (2010). International relations today. Delhi: Pearson.
  2. Duncan, W. R., Jancar-Webster, B., & Switky, B. (2009). World politics in the 21st century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
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