National historical background – imperialistic heritage, NIH-index

Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them

-An Old Maxim

This new concept, national imperialistic heritage of great power or NIH-index, describes the spiritual heritage and collective mental status of a nation state based on its historical experience and knowledge of being empire and military might. This means the readiness, willingness and determination of a nation state to become and stay as a great power on the international scene. Although this feature is of non-materialistic nature, it will “speed up or slow down” the process of a state to become a great power.

The qualitative categories of NIH-index used in the table below:

  • mighty     5 points
  • strong     4 points
  • mediocre 3 points
  • low          2 points
  • minor       1 points
  • none        0 points        

The factors used for categorizing nations are assessed by the following items:

  • historical experience in military and imperialistic commitments
  • characteristics of important national leaders
  • strong national posture and firm determination to disseminate its political ideology
  • nationally independent decision power regarding use of military forces
  • constitutional restrictions regarding military forces
  • capability and willingness to wage wars outside the borders
  • national posture of nuclear and conventional armament
  • membership in military alliances
  • permanent membership in UNSC
  • prominent memberships in international/global organizations and institutions
  • other relevant issues

To sum up, in the table below are ten states classified according to NIH-index.


There are some interesting features in the above table:

  • The US and Russia are self-evident great powers with strong NIH-index
  • France and UK have also high points but their present sovereign military capacity is bound/supported by NATO-membership
  • China’s points are a bit lower, due to turbulent internal history and modest performance in years 1850-1950
  • Turkey is obviously coming up in ranking, due to recent aggressive and militaristic foreign political performance by President Erdogan during last five years
  • Japan, an old Asian empire, has been and still is bound by the US since the end of WWII and the possible use of Japan’s defense forces is very restricted
  • Italy is the “historical” power whose greatness is past, same thing with Germany which is economically important but militarily “near to nil”
  • India is an interesting case, clearly a potential great power in the future but its history as a British colony labels its position more as a servant than a master

The US, base of points:

  • the leading economic and political power in the world today
  • the leading military power in the world nowadays, both in nuclear and in conventional capabilities,
  • Uncle Sam is the only military superpower now, the unipole
  • has waged numerous wars nearly every year since WWII, pouring trillions of dollars in them, number of victims (dead and disabled people) in the wars with the US involved amounts up to millions
  • a permanent member of UNSC and the leading NATO-member
  • leading positions in numerous international organizations and institutions

Russia, base of points:

  • besides the US, the other of leading military powers in the world, both in the Cold War era and today, both in nuclear and in conventional armament
  • extensive and robust imperialistic and military history and heritage
  • large military industrial complex and modernized defense forces today
  • third biggest military financing and development budget in the world
  • has developed and developing a wide range of state-of- the art weaponry, based on the latest high-tech
  • a permanent member of UNSC
  • problems in the national economy although possesses the largest natural resources

China, base of points:

  • long dynasty and empire history, however not territorial conquest wars during last 150 years, wars with Japan and armed conflicts with Russia/Soviet Union as well with some Western countries in late 19th and early 20th century
  • after WWII aggressive communist revolution era, Taiwan conflicts 1954 and 1958, participation in Korean war 1954, Tibet conflict, India conflict 1962, Vietnam conflict 1979
  • period of isolation, slow opening in early 70’s: membership in the UN, President Nixon’s visit 1972, Tiananmen unrest 1989, new opening era thereafter
  • strong economic growth over ten years
  • extensive financing, investments and modernization of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the biggest military force by the manpower (over 2 million) in the world, second largest budget, nuclear power
  • robust military posture in the near-territory, especially South China Sea, where China has built artificial islands and various military facilities
  • member of the UN and one of permanent members in UNSC
  • fully independent military power with no constitutional restrictions
  • nowadays capable and willing to wage wars even outside the borders, although shows reserved and careful approach to international disputes; Taiwan, Tibet and Kashmir are still sensitive issues in China’s foreign policy, special relations with North Korea
  • has no experience of large military operations outside its near-territories
  • very close, extensive and many-sided military cooperation with Russia nowadays, founding member of SCO