The defining characteristic of the state is the ability to wield power. The use of power, both inside and outside of one’s border, directly speaks to the sovereignty of the nation. If a nation is incapable of disciplining or punishing its citizens it will invariably become a failed state. Moreover if a country isn’t recognized as powerful in the global political arena, that country stands a very good chance of being dominated by a nation who has the capacity to enforce its own will. The use, or at least the perception, of power is so fundamental in nationhood that those who wield the most power can easily dictate world events.
A country need not take direct actions against others in order to establish dominance. Coercing threats can easily be applied by a powerful nation against a nation of lesser means. When a clear pecking order is established, the meager nation has no illusion that they will bow to the will of the superior. Luckily for states with equally matched political assets, a state needs only to appear stronger to the state it wishes to dominate. The uses of direct and indirect threats are a disciplinary tactic used the world over to achieve a means. The fear of power can be just as useful as the application if applied to the right situation.
The line between intimidating ones enemies and taking action became increasingly skewed during the Cold War. The words of John F. Kennedy best exemplify this in his following statement, “…Armies and modern armaments serve primarily as the shield behind which subversion, infiltration and a host of other tactics steadily advance…” (Walker 1993, 164) The atmosphere created by the USSR and America in 1962 was of a threat, new to the world.
Two Super Powers and a Meager Nation
Countries who consider themselves world powers are very likely to interlope in the business of countries they consider inferior and in which they have a political/economic interest. If a country is cooperative, the promise of rewards will help to achieve the dominate countries goals. For countries to refuse to cooperate, the easiest way for the superior country to achieve desired results is to impose sanctions on the country. Economic sanctions can be disastrous for a country that’s economy is export driven and are relatively low risk for the imposing nation. Cuba is an example of world powers imposing their will on a county of lesser means in such a way.
After Fidel Castro’s revolution and nationalizing of the economy (and after a failed attempt of American trained Cubans to overthrow Castro at the Bay of Pigs), the United States imposed an economic embargo on Cuba. Ideologically motivated to curb the spread of communism, America refused to do business with Cuba unless it reformed politically. The failure of America’s ultimatum was due to the Soviets eventual backing of the communist government in Cuba. The...