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A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests. A superpower is traditionally considered to be one step higher than a great power.

Alice Lyman Miller (Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School), defines a superpower as "a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemony."[1]

It was a term first applied in 1944 to the United States, the Soviet Union, and the British Empire. Following World War II, as the British Empire transformed itself into the Commonwealth and its territories became independent, the Soviet Union and the United States generally came to be regarded as the only two superpowers, and confronted each other in the Cold War.

After the Cold War, the most common belief held was that only the United States fulfilled the criteria to be considered a superpower,[2] although it is a matter of debate whether it is a hegemon or if it is a besieged global power.[3] Brazil, China,[4] the European Union, India, and Russia[5][6][7][8][9] are also thought to have the potential of achieving superpower status within the 21st century[10].

Others doubt the existence of superpowers in the post Cold War era altogether, stating that today's complex global marketplace and the rising interdependency between the world's nations has made the concept of a superpower an idea of the past and that the world is now multipolar.[11][12][13][14]

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