ASK Commentary
January 23, 2003 

The Power of the United States

Breaking News for January 23, 2003 — The Scope and extent of United States Power

The United States is the most powerful country in the world. It is the most powerful country that has ever existed. In fact, it has the greatest ratio of power vis-à-vis other countries than ever existed in world history.

A surprising and well-written article appeared in the journal Foreign Affairs of July/August 2002. It is titled “American Primacy in Perspective” written by Steven G. Brooks and William G. Wohlforth. I recommend the entire article to you. It is found in full at Both men are professors in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. The article examines the scope and breadth of the military, political, economic and even moral power of the United States compared to other countries in the world. The evidence is astonishing.

The United States is riding a crest of power unparalleled in the history of the world. Brooks and Wohlforth even make the comparison that the power of the United States has never been greater since World War II.

Many of you reading this are familiar with prophecy commentators who proclaimed doom and destruction for the United States during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and of course around the year 2000. I remember particularly hearing phrases that the United States, “has lost her moral compass,” “has lost her national will,” and “on the sure road to decline.” Such statements were as wrong as their commentators' understanding of prophecy was wrong.

United States Blessings

Going beyond what Brooks and Wohlforth wrote, the United States is not powerful because it is good or moral. Nor is the United States good or moral because it is powerful (although many believe that to be true). The United States is powerful because God has blessed it with resources that are the superior in practically every imaginable category. These blessings give a relative quality of life that permits people to be more generous with their neighbors, while the huge expanse of the country allows people to move away from those they do not like.

• The United States has the best and most productive expanse of farmland in the world. A terrific blessing that allows for growth. As ecologist Barry Commoner stated, the land is so fertile that in any other country of the world such quality farmland would be set aside as a national treasure.

• It has the best natural river system imaginable, fed by a uniquely balanced system of groundwater. In the country’s early history canals were built to allow interior river navigation and transport to many of the rivers in the northeast. This blessing fed the western expansion over the Appalachian Mountains after the American Revolution. The longest river, the Mississippi runs north to south for 2,500 miles through the center of the country, its tributary system draining 40% of the continental United States. Much of that system is navigable.

• The navigable waterways of the Great Lakes are an unbelievable natural blessing if for no other reason than it provides an interior of trade and gives a huge source of fresh water that feeds the underground water system for the entire eastern United States. This was greatly enhanced in 1949 by a series of locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway that made ocean-going navigation possible 2,000 miles from the Atlantic coast to the interior of the country. These Great Lakes also modify, moderate the weather patterns in the Eastern United states, while drawing humidity and rain to the Midwest.

• The coasts of the United States contain deep and well-protected natural harbors that have been improved to provide protection to ocean-going shipping. Look at the cities on the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast, and notice the God-given natural harbors that beg for cities to grow, trade and flourish.

• The mineral wealth of the United States is unmatched by any country in the world, except perhaps that of Russia. Only the United States has been given a full opportunity to develop the major blessings God has provided in the ground: coal, iron, copper, petroleum, lead, zinc, gold, silver, all in massive quantities. The mineral wealth of the United States also contains all but a few of the necessary trace minerals necessary for modern metallurgy and technology.

• The natural barriers such as mountains and rivers are situated such that they are not permanent obstacles, but force expansion of the population into new and less developed territories. This blessing breaks up weather patterns to create the great grasslands of the plains.

• The nation is blessed with peaceful neighbors for most of its history on the north and the south.

• The wide protective oceans on the east and west graciously became highways for commerce, and moats when needed for protection from potential enemies.

• The soil of much of the country was so productive that moving to a new territory of undeveloped land allowed enough settlers to overcome hardships, build a new life, and offer surplus crops for sale. Because of an extensive and expansive transportation infrastructure, seemingly unproductive land in one area of the country can grow crops for transport to an area that can appreciate unique crops.

• Not to be forgotten is the fact that for the past 60 years nationwide the United States has an unprecedented blessing of productive rainfall in the right places at the right times — a run of good weather practically unheard of in recorded human history since the Pax Romana of the 1st century C.E.

• The blessing of public hygiene (clean water and sewers) in the expanding cities almost single-handedly made possible a substantial increase of longevity, which was then given to the world. While not a natural blessing this situation was made possible by an abundant and extensive natural water system (from God) that is self-cleansing.

• The higher education system in the United States is the envy of the world in technological output of engineers and scientists, with most of the world’s best and brightest graduate students coming to the United States for their technical education.

As a result of these blessings the United States has power so great that its equal has not ever been seen, or imagined, in the history of the world. (And I likely missed many other blessings from God.)

United States military and economic dominance is rooted in the country's position as the world's leading technological power derived specifically from its blessings. Although measuring national R&D spending is increasingly difficult in an era in which so many economic activities cross borders, efforts to do so indicate America's continuing lead. Figures from the late 1990s showed that United States expenditures on R&D nearly equaled those of the next seven richest countries combined.

United States has no rival in any critical dimension of power. Not one. There has never been a system of sovereign international states that contained one state with this degree of dominance.

United States Dominance

Here is a list of United States dominance as presented in Brooks and Wohlforth’s “American Primacy in Perspective” article. The United States,

» “Is poised to spend more on defense in 2003 than the next 15–20 biggest spenders combined,”

» “Purchases this preeminence with only 3.5% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the lowest in the history of the world,”

» Has an “overwhelming nuclear superiority,”

» “[H]as the world's dominant air force,”

» Possesses “the only truly blue-water navy,”

» Holds a “unique capability to project power around the globe,”

» Effortlessly sustained a $50 billion increase in defense spending after September 11, indicating an economy that is unbelievably dynamic,

» “[M]ilitary advantage is even more apparent in quality than in quantity,”

» “Leads the world in exploiting the military applications of advanced communications and information technology,”

» Has technology that allows for more realistic training, producing better soldiers, and does it faster,

» Military can “coordinate and process information about the battlefield and destroy targets from afar with extraordinary precision,”

» “Spends three times more on military research and development (R&D), than the next six powers combined,”

» Economic dominance dwarfs all other countries or combination of countries, including the European Economic Union (which by the way has small military forces, even including NATO),

» Expenditure for economic research and development “nearly equaled those of the next seven richest countries combined,”

» Not only has dominance in every major indicator of power, but the rest of the world, individual nations, trading blocs and regions, are all dependent upon United States cooperation for their own economic well-being, for which there is no substitute.

What is going on here? Why is the United States so blessed, with the blessings seeming to increase, despite difficult challenges and problems at home? Brooks and Wohlforth conclude,
“... no global challenge to the United States is likely to emerge for the foreseeable future. No country, or group of countries, wants to maneuver itself into a situation in which it will have to contend with the focused enmity of the United States.”
The whole point of the article is this: The power of the United States is so great, and the power differential is increasing so much, that no country can challenge the United States for world hegemony. If they would do so they would damage themselves irreparably because the United States is “necessary” for world progress. United States power will continue for the foreseeable future, according to the authors.


How then does this great power of the United States relate to prophecy? First, it needs to be understood who the people of the United States are, the basic stock of the population of the nation — and who they are not. The United States is not Israel. They are not one or more of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. (See Dr. Martin’s article, “Who Are the Northern Ten Lost Tribes of Israel Today).”

Re-read particularly Dr. Martin’s article, “The Secret of United States Economic Success” and my article “Recent Events in the Middle East.” Both relate directly to the power, economic and military, of the United States.

The people of the Unites States are not morally superior to any other people. They are not a “chosen” people, although they have received special blessings. With such blessings come great responsibilities. One way the United States has shown itself to be responsible with its blessings has been through the generosity of its people in times of distress of other nations and peoples. Also, the United States has been generous with defeated enemies, aiding and helping them to recover rather than to suppress and crush them.

Feel free to disagree with any single point about the blessings of the United States or its degree of power in today’s international scene. You might not like it, but you cannot disagree with the totality of the blessings given by God or the relative power of the United States in the world today. It is truly the sole superpower in the world.

It will be interesting, and perhaps terrible, to see how God develops and changes this situation of the power of the United States in relation to other countries of the world.

David Sielaff

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