International Relations > Specific Countries
The United States are the world's leading power in economic, political and military terms.
Despite the slowdown after the outburst of the real estate bubble in 2008 and the subsequent financial crisis, the US economy managed to recover pretty well and the country remains the planet's first economy in terms of GDP size. America is also a major hub of scientific research and technological innovation; and (a quasi-unique case among advanced economies) it has a favorable demographic pyramid. Moreover, in the past few years it has become an exporter of hydrocarbons thanks to the exploitation of shale gas and oil, thus dramatically reducing its dependence on energy imports and bringing significant benefits to its own economy (even though there are environmental concerns about shale extraction).
Militarily, this translates in a large powerful, well-trained armed forces equipped with high-tech weapon systems; and moreover the US enjoy an advantageous geographic position, because it is naturally protected by two oceans and has no hostile powers along its borders. At the same time, America's military has bases all over the world and possesses an unmatched power projection capability; especially thanks to its naval supremacy, granted by eleven supercarriers based around the globe. Because of this, the US is the main security provider and it ensures the free access to the global commons. Finally, the US holds a vast and advanced nuclear arsenal.
As a result, America is the most influential power on Earth in political terms, and is cornerstone of the current international order. Today's international law and institutions (notably the United Nations) were inspired and sustained by the US. Washington also has allies all over the world, who benefit from its protection and allow it to access virtually any region on the planet.
However, America's power is not unlimited. The emergence of new power centers, notably China, is making it more difficult for the US to freely exert its power and influence. Moreover, due to its role as the world's first power, the country must face challenges in every region of the globe; and properly balancing the different (and often conflicting) interests and values is a difficult endeavor. The US suffers, more than any other state, the risk of imperial overstretching: in other words, to gradually lose its economic vitality and consequently its power due to a rise in military expenses and the need to ensure an armed presence in too many places, which also implies the danger of being involved in costly conflicts overseas.
Finally, the US has also its own share of domestic challenges to face. The social tensions on issues such as the condition of black people, the sanitary and education systems, income inequality and others will affect America's role in the world; something that is by itself a much-debated theme in the US.
Given America's importance, as everyone studying international relations I had a large share of readings and lectures on the US.
Therefore, the reports focusing on the United States appear below on this page.