Superpower collapse

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Superpower collapse is the political collapse of a superpower nation state; the term is most often used to describe the dissolution of the Soviet Union but also can be applied to the loss of the British Empire's superpower status.

Soviet Union[edit]

Dramatic changes occurred in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and early 1990s, with perestroika and glasnost, the dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and finally ending in the dissolution of the Soviet Union; as early as 1970, Andrei Amalrik had made predictions of Soviet collapse; Emmanuel Todd made a similar prediction in 1976.[1]

United States[edit]

Some political scientists[who?] believe that when one superpower collapses, another must take its place so as to maintain a balance of power. During the Cold War, the U.S. fought many proxy wars against USSR-supported Marxist-Leninist and socialist states, but after the Soviet dissolution found itself as the world's sole superpower, even deemed by a few[who?] to be the world's sole hyperpower. Political theoreticians of the neo-realist philosophy, (known by many as neoconservatives), self-styled as the Blue Team, increasingly view the People's Republic of China as a military threat,[2][3] although there are strong economic ties between the two powers. Blue Team members favor containment and confrontation with the PRC, and strong US support of Taiwan.[4]

In After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order [5] Emmanuel Todd predicts the eventual decline and fall of the United States as a superpower; 'After years of being perceived as a problem-solver, The US itself has now become a problem for the rest of the world.'

British Empire[edit]

The consequence of fighting two World Wars in a relatively short amount of time, along with the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union rise to superpower status after the end of World War II, both of which were hostile to British imperialism and along with the change in ideology led to a rapid wave of decolonization all over the world in the decades after World War II; the Suez Crisis of 1956 is generally considered the beginning of the end of Britain's period as a superpower,[6][7][8] although other commentators have pointed to World War I, the Depression of 1920-21, the Partition of Ireland, the return of the pound sterling to the gold standard at its prewar parity in 1925, the loss of wealth from World War II, the end of Lend-Lease Aid from the United States in 1945, the postwar Age of Austerity, the Winter of 1946–47, the beginning of decolonization, and the independence of India as key points in Britain's decline and loss of superpower status.[9]


'Dangers are never greater than when empires break up'. — Margaret Thatcher[10]

'That special time (collapse of communism in Eastern Europe) caught me in its wild vortex and ... compelled me to do what had to be done.' Václav Havel[11]

'The world reads an expansion in military activity as a sign of increasing power when in fact it serves to mask a decline.' — Emmanuel Todd[12]

'The world is a complex whole, subject to endless revolutions (which) show a continual tendency to destruction.' Denis Diderot[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The final fall, Todd, 1976
  2. ^ "China's Growing Military Muscle: A Looming Threat?". 20 June 2011.
  3. ^ Isaac Stone Fish (10 June 2013). "'We Face a Very Serious Chinese Military Threat'". Foreign Policy.
  4. ^ BRANEGAN, Jay (Apr 9, 2001). "The Hard-Liners". TIME Magazine.
  5. ^ Todd, publ Constable, 2001
  6. ^ Brown, Derek (14 March 2001). "1956: Suez and the end of empire". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ Reynolds, Paul (24 July 2006). "Suez: End of empire". BBC News.
  8. ^ History's worst decisions and the people who made them, pp. 167–172
  9. ^ "United Kingdom | History, Geography, Facts, & Points of Interest". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  10. ^ The Downing Street Years, P769
  11. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, p364
  12. ^ After the Empire, Constable, 2001, pXVI
  13. ^ Letter on the Blind, 1749