Is the American president still the most powerful man on earth?

Discussion in 'China' started by CCP, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. CCP

    CCP Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 19, 2014
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    Is the American president still the most powerful man on earth? – Telegraph Blogs

    It’s a commonplace of journalism to say that the President of the USA is “the most powerful man in the world”. Thus it was, before Obama’s State of the Union speech this week: pundits dutifully trotted out the phrase "the most powerful man on earth" as the dashingly besuited Mr Obama strode to his Washington lectern.
    The only problem is that it’s now somewhat doubtful whether Obama is The Most Potent Hombre On The Planet. A rival and reasonable case can be made for the President of China, whose name I bet many of you don’t even know (and I confess I am not entirely sure either: I just had to Google it for good measure – it’s Xi Jinping).
    I can hear the protests of Atlanticist readers already. America might be in relative decline but America still has the biggest GDP, the most advanced technology, the finest universities, and, of course, by far the world’s most impressive and expensive military. Right?
    Right. All this is totally true. America is a great and marvelous nation, and it is not going anywhere.
    But here’s a game you can play. Simply type, into your nearest search engine, variants of the phrase “China overtakes”. Then see what pops up.
    I did that half an hour ago, and here are some of the stories I unearthed. China has, this week, overtaken France and Italy to become the planet’s largest consumer of red wine. China has recently become the world's largest market for BMW cars. China has just supplanted the USA as the world's biggest trader with Brazil. China now produces more “clean energy” than any other nation.
    And so it goes on. China is now the planet’s biggest importer of oil. China is the globe’s greatest consumer of gold. China recently overtook Korea to become the world's biggest shipbuilder. The Chinese now file more patents than any other country on the planet.
    Similarly, China is the world’s biggest market for PCs. China is also of course, the biggest producer of PCs, making a mindblowing 90pc of the global total. China also manufactures, or produces: 80pc of the world’s air conditioners, 50pc of the world’s pork, 74pc of the world’s solar cells, 70pc of the world’s mobile phones, 60pc of the world’s cement, 48pc of the world’s coal, and 63pc of the world’s shoes. Yes, shoes.
    All the above is largely related to the fact that, a few weeks ago, China became the world's biggest trading nation, displacing America from the number one position it has held for many decades.
    And this, I believe, is what makes China’s President Xi Jinping potentially a more powerful man than Barack Obama. Yes, America has the Big Stick: America’s military dwarfs that of anyone else. But what benefit has that vast defense spending brought America this last decade?
    The Americans couldn’t win in Iraq, or Aghanistan, despite the blood and treasure expended; and the fact America could nuke China ten times over is little solace, given that China could do the same to America at least twice over, and so everyone would end up dead anyway.
    At the same time, China is trading more with foreign countries than America, and this is the true source of geopolitical power. Someone who buys more of your stuff, and sells you more of their stuff, is more important to you and your livelihood, and is a more powerful influence on your existence, than someone who could beat the crap out of you, but very probably won’t, especially after their last punch-up went so badly wrong.
    All of which means that Barack Obama’s claim to be “the most powerful man on earth” is increasingly untenable, and will be even less tenable for his successors in the White House, as China’s total GDP surpasses America’s. The Washington Post reckons this enormity will happen in 2017; I think it will likely take 5-10 years more, as China suffers an inevitable slowdown in its ascent. But China’s biggest overtake will happen, eventually, barring global war or asteroid impact.
    How will we all react to this? I don’t know. But it will be odd, and jarring, to hear the president of the USA described as “the second most powerful man on earth”. Perhaps they should elect Ms Hillary Clinton, just so we can all avoid the cognitive discomfort.
    pkroyal likes this.
  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA
    It's been a mindless cliche since it was first uttered. Journalists are morons.
    The Messiah and angeldude13 like this.

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