In its generic use, the term refers to those few states with power (defined by combining a series of variables together—e.g. economic wealth, population size, and above all, military strength, especially in the possession of sophisticated nuclear armaments) far transcending that of the rest of the states in the international arena. More specifically, the term refers to the two states, the United States and the Soviet Union, in the time of the Cold War. After the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two leading powers, first in Europe, then, in the rest of the world, as the two powers competed against each other for influence in the global politics of the Cold War. It is widely conceded that in the aftermath of the Cold War there remains only one superpower, the United States; commentators have also coined the terms ‘unipolar power’ and ‘hyper power’ to describe the United States' post‐Cold War power position.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Politics.