Just a thought: Today, the United States still stands as what is called a "hyperpower" -- it possesses territory, client-states, economic influence, technological superiority, prestige, political power, and even its language and currency are accepted the world over. To be sure, there are rivals and challenges on all fronts but the U.S. is still the leader in every measure of global power that possesses any meaning.
If we spin up the ol' Wayback Machine and s look at the world in, say, 1560, we'd see another picture. Another hyperpower dominated the world, facing many challenges to its hegemony but was obviously the dominant power everywhere you went. That would have been Spain. 1492 was to Spain what 1776 was to the United States. Spain's rise to global dominance after taking the New World was hallmarked by Spanish becoming the lingua franca of its time, by the fact that the Spanish real was accepted (and indeed preferred) as legal tender across the globe, by the fact that Spanish military might was unbeatable in Europe and elsewhere, and by Spain's territorial reach on nearly every continent.
While King Philip never got to realize his dream of looking at a globe and seeing a map of Spain, it was nevertheless true that when you consider the Hapsburg holdings in Europe, Spanish possessions in Africa, India, Indonesia, the Philipines, and the Americas, the sun never set on the Spanish Empire in the sixteenth century. History enthusiasts like to play the parlor game of comparing the United States to Rome. Maybe we'd benefit more from comparing the U.S. to Spain.
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