National Power and International Relations

Essay, 2016

16 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Elements of National Power

4. Advantages of National Power and Relations

5. Disadvantages of National Power and relations

6. Factors affecting National Power and Relations

7. Solutions to the above factors

8. Conclusion

9. Bibliography

1. Introduction

This essay seeks to cover details as to why national powers are the determinant of International relations. I will give an understanding of national power and discuss it in terms of international relations which may have some complication since many aspects have to be considered. This therefore will be elaborated on how power has changed throughout the years and defend my argument as to why national powers are the primary factors in international relations. I will therefore high light ways on how power can be obtained and managed using different governing systems. Hence compare and contrast previous power systems and democratic power systems.

I will then highlight factors that affect national systems in the 21st century and alternative solutions for the highlighted factors hence summarise with a conclusion in what national power may mean to the current generation.

2. Background

Power has different definitions that are understood differently. Power can mean physical strength of one person over others and has control over them. It can also mean capacity to impose one’s interest or will on others and it can also mean having ability to exercise rule and control over others. Meanwhile oxford English dictionary defines power as ‘ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.’ This implies that the common essence in the above different definitions highlight one individual’s authority over others. For the purpose of this essay, we can define it as an ability to secure desired and intended goals and objectives through any means. This can be rolled out economically, socially or politically.

Meanwhile National is commonly understood as a nation or state. In other political science theories, it means a group of people bound by a strong sense of nationality based on common race, religion, language, history, culture and economic activities that bring people together.

National Power therefore means capability of the state/nation to secure the goals and objectives of its national interests in relation with other nations (Padelhord and Abraham Lincoln). He further elaborated on it as far as involvement of capacity to use force or threat or any other influence over others in order to secure goals and objectives of national interests. In other words, this may also mean voluntary commitment of nationals to ensure positive achievements of national interests. The concept of national power is linked to international relations. This topic attracted my attention in looking at different national powers and relations.

Marxist theory classified power according to dominion in capitalist societies where power is linked to class relations in economics, politics and ideology. Power source comes from the ownership and of economic property, wealth, productive assets of society, control of finances, ideas and hegemony control over the state which shows its significance in international relations. Marxist perspective of sources of national power are justified by existing reference of current governments across the world where corruption is day to day challenge in controlling national powers.

Looking at the above description of National power and its sources, it’s clear that there are elements that surround national power;

3. Elements of National Power

National Powers of the country are dependent upon several elements which can as well be called determinants of National power as different scholars describe them. No single element determines national power but many factors contribute to this effect as shown below;

Geographical boundaries; this is the most tangible, permanent and natural element within the national power. It involves land resource for particular population with legal description of the area protected and controlled by the nation or state. Its importance as an element of national power can be rooted on political capacity as determinant of international politics. Country Foreign policies according to International relations is determined by its geography where it’s located. In other words while talking of national power it must have geographical definition. For example Uganda has a land area of 77,108square miles (199,710square kilometres) where the total area covers 91,135square miles (236,040square kilometres). It’s bordered on west by Democratic republic of Congo, Southern Sudan on the North, Kenya on the East and Tanzania and Rwanda on the South ( Map in this sense play a major role as a significant factor in identifying geographical location of the nation where size of it matters as given in the above example of Uganda and its neighbouring countries. This is the clear description of geography as national power element. Therefore without geographical description, there is no national power.

Natural Resources; nations have power when they have natural resource like, water, land, minerals, etc. existence of natural resources within the country gives it more national power over others. Their existence gives nation to be Self-sufficiency or self-reliance on existing natural resources that give country more powers in terms of supply and demand across the world. Other countries may not be having what others have hence giving more powers a country that has for amicable negotiations. For example, Libya has power because of petroleum resource that it depends on, natural gas and gypsum. Its economy primarily depends on oil according to ( Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Some countries depending on their geographical locations are blessed with land resource for farming give them more national recognition as agricultural productive countries like China was the leading producer of wheat throughout the world in 2013 of 121,000 metric tonnes as a country while European Union as a bloc of 28 countries led at 133,049 metric tonnes ( Therefore countries rank in national power according to natural resources that exist within their countries and demand and accessibility as well matters.

Population; This matter where people give country national power. For example China is the highest populous country in the world with 1,382,291,958 as of Wednesday, June 29, 2016 based on the latest United Nations estimates which is equivalent to 18.72% of the world population ( People are the highly rated power of the nation. Most countries with low population are not popular and have less to do. Unlike highly populated countries as given China for example being the highly populated country in the world that has taken the advantage of its population for economic development through engaging its population in different activities for its benefit. According to World Bank economic report April 06, 2016, China has shown fastest sustained expansion economic growth in history at an average of 10% annually that has lifted over 800 million people from absolute poverty. According to the report, it indicates that China achieved all the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 and made major achievements globally. This is due to its population commitments hence creating national power economically across the world.

Military/Security; This is one of the elements in National Power which describes the strength and capability of nation to defend its citizens. Military as national power has to do with defence and security of national resources from outsiders. In other words military strength is described in terms of how country protects its resources and boundaries and its title. For example United States military force is known to be the best military in the world such that its military dominion over others is highly recognised for their tactics and support to other nations/states. This as an element in national power plays a big role in defending national resources and relationship with other states. Sighting example of Syria that has for the past 5 years experienced wars from government opposing rebels where a number of innocent people are dying. Due to military strength and capacity of United States and Russia, their intervention was called for to quench an alarming situation where other states with military strength/power as well intervened like China and others from European Union. Therefore Military gives a country more national power.

Economic Development; Economic development this is a familiar term surrounding development that implies people’s wellbeing. It is detail by growth domestic product which comprises of economic terms like supply, demand, satisfaction and increase in the level of output. It therefore has high strength on national power for its recognition and support to the population and military. Some countries are not known economically or else they might be known for their low economic development with high dependency rate on other countries that give more economic power to other countries where they depend on for their development. The increased advantage of economic links plays a big role at international relations level that reflects the national powers of the country economically through using economic productivity where supply and demand controls its production. Meaning if other countries have high demand for the product like sugar and the only one country is producing sugar in the region that means it has more national power for bargaining etc depending on demand and supply.

Technology; this is the scientific knowledge of application in which information is designed for the production of goods and services that are geared towards supporting people at all levels. This adds value or appreciates at all times with great improvements. We are living in technological generation with changes in every mode of technology leading to countries competing for recognition technologically. This can be link to globalisation. Some countries are well-known for their improved technologies that are backed up hence recognised as developed countries like United States of America, China, India, and European countries. This is major source of their power recognition. The level of technological advancement determines national power status and technology comprises of different dimensions that may include; communication technology, agricultural technology, information technology, nuclear technology, production technology etc. the advancement of diversified technologies puts a country to a more recognised position that influences its foreign policies.

Determinants of national power have demonstrated that, there is no single element that contributes or over powers the others in determining National Power. All elements in this sense determine National Power at all levels and this leads us to discuss of advantages and disadvantages of National Power.

4. Advantages of National Power and Relations

In describing national power and relations, there are some advantages in a show case of power existence and relations to rest of the world. These advantages include;

National Identity

This can literally mean a sense of belonging to one state or nation represented by a distinctive tradition, culture, politics, or language that makes one different from another person from another state or nation. In some other terms it’s well known to be a psychological instinct in persons on a sense of awareness of differences or sense of belonging to a nation or state or feeling of recognition as nationals or the state. It therefore indicates that national power influences ownership of national property, boundaries where protection is the major player in national identity as defined by Marxist theory. National power is of great importance that it influences national identity that has elements of ownership and protection of national property that makes the country known to the rest of other states hence has opportunities for relationships. National Power in this sense is more important. For example, I am a Ugandan and will always remain a Ugandan by birth with that national identity, I have an obligation to protect national property no matter where I will be but will always be proud to be a Ugandan. Therefore national power in terms of national identity plays a big role.

National Security

National Power means having national security for the country. Security is guaranteed once national power is the topic. To build economic, social and political powers, one has to be assured of safety for the protection of dominion over economic, social and political sovereignty. For example, having natural resources like Gold, Diamond, Silver, Oil etc, the country has to have proper security to protect such resources. Guyana-Venezuelan border dispute claims arise due to mainly mineral deposits around the location such as discovered oil and gold deposits according to National Newspaper Kaeiteur News Sep 28, 2015 written by Leonard Gildarie from New York. Venezuela posed threat by building up military troops along Guyana-Venezuelan border which was a show of National military power as in showing their National security. In other words National Power contributes to the national security for the protection of national property, assets, resources etc.


Excerpt out of 16 pages


National Power and International Relations
( Atlantic International University )  (School of Business and Economics)
Master of International Relations
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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493 KB
Power systems, national power, international relations, governing systems
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Masters Samson Esudu (Author), 2016, National Power and International Relations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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