The position they jockey for is ‘World Leadership’ or, at least, leadership in the world.
A big part of ‘leadership’, maybe the biggest, is getting ‘followers.’ In simple barnyard terms, ‘the big lead the small.’
So, what is it to be ‘big’? Let us be simple-minded, as one of my math teachers counseled, and say the obvious: Numbers of people and economic strength.
Headlines tell us that the three world powers jockeying for advantage in the world are the USA, China, and Russia. More and more, India is in the headlines because, at the least, it will soon be the most populous country in the world–and is already the world’s largest democracy. Here are comparisons of these four countries, using data freely available in the CIA World Factbook:
It is clear from the above table that China, despite its great population, and Russia, despite it presence in the world’s news headlines, have much ground to cover before they reach the level of domestic-product-per-capita of the USA. India is still far away from achieving comparable economic benefits for all its citizens.
At first glance it seems anomalous that the four countries discussed here are so far apart from others in their world rankings of GDP-per-capita, especially given their real and apparent presence in the world. It IS anomalous. See here:
The GDP-per-capita in Russia is less than that of Poland, or Greece, or Romania.
The GDP-per-capita in China is than that of Costa Rica, or Thailand, or Serbia.
The GDP-per-capita in India is less than that in Namibia, or Vietnam, or Venezuela.
In considering Russia and China, I see that they both crave world dominance, or at least significant presence and influence. But, as much power and influence as they do, indeed, have, their relative economic power, per-capita, is vastly less than the USA. What this tells me is that China and Russia are financing their world ambitions on the backs of a population that are still struggling to achieve, in terms of standard of living, that which prevails in North America, much of Europe, and in other small countries and principalities.
Without having enough information to reach a solid conclusion here, I do feel sympathy for the people of these two countries who, despite their relative poverty, are tasked with financing and otherwise supporting national ambitions beyond their countries’ borders.