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Subject: Most Powerful Military of All Time in Terms of Global Percentage
Aeb4ever    1/13/2006 1:20:45 AM
What was the most powerful military of all time in terms of global share of military power? For example, the USA is currently ranked at having about 53% of total naval power. I am referring in terms of all branches vs the world. My votes would be either the Mongols at height, Romans at height, English at height, USA after WWII, or USA after Cold War. Can’t make a guess at each countries percentage though. Fell free to add your own list or make a guess at the percentages of mine.
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Basilisk Station       12/8/2009 10:27:17 AM

gf0012-aust your an idiot.

No. He's one of the most knowledgeable and respected posters around here.
He's one of the few posters here who's actually reasonable and polite. Also unlike far to many of the posters here, he's NOT an outraged ideologue with an ax to grind. So you can hold a real discussion with him and not have it degenerate into a flame fest.
Feel free to disagree with him, but at least try and show some manners in doing so.
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Hugo       12/8/2009 2:36:35 PM

No. He's one of the most knowledgeable and respected posters around here.

He's one of the few posters here who's actually reasonable and polite. Also unlike far to many of the posters here, he's NOT an outraged ideologue with an ax to grind. So you can hold a real discussion with him and not have it degenerate into a flame fest.

  Very true..
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Nichevo       12/8/2009 4:00:30 PM
Herald, did we ever hash this out?  Because there are people who think that is all stuff.  As you say, we have no idea how they did it.  I've read scholarship saying that they didn't.  At least not as stated here - a 400 ft wooden ship?  No iron at all?  Twice the size of the Great Eastern steamship?  You're the engineer here.  Let me know if this is familiar or whether you need me to dig up all my old sources.

" I'm saying that THE OTTOMANS WERE THE MOST POWERFULL EMPIRE BETWEEN 1450-1650 after that they began to lose their power.Understand?"


Spain and Portugal were the world's two superpowers in those days.  In those days Spain's navy ruled the waved like Britain's did in later centuries.


But it still failed to invade England when it sent an Armada - the largest naval invasion force in history at that time - to the English Channel.  Despite the Royal Navy not even being in existence at the time - England had just ragtag colelction of merchant ships and privateering vessels, etc - the English, led by Sir Francis Drake, still managed to defeat the Armada.

Try looking at the Ming when thou boast.;


Zheng He's Voyages of Discovery

oceanic scientist Jin Wu discusses the 15th century expeditions of the
Chinese mariner Zheng He & the celebration of the 600th anniversary
of his first voyage

By Richard Gunde

Zheng He accomplished, Jin Wu declared, must be considered an
achievement for all of mankind, not just a Chinese achievement.

April 12 Jin Wu, distinguished oceanic scientist and former Minister of
Education of the Republic of China (on Taiwan), discussed Zheng He's
voyages of discovery and the upcoming celebrations of the 600th
anniversary of his first voyage.

In his talk, Professor Wu emphasized that, especially since the
documentary record surrounding Zheng He (sometimes written Cheng Ho;
1371-1435) and his voyages is so thin, oceanic scientists and engineers
and other physical scientists can provide important insights to
supplement the work of historians.

Historical Background

Professor Wu began by briefly retracing the history of Zheng He's
voyages. Upon the orders of the emperor Yongle and his successor,
Xuande, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions, the first in the year
1405 and the last in 1430, which sailed from China to the west,
reaching as far as the Cape of Good Hope. The object of the voyages was
to display the glory and might of the Chinese Ming dynasty and to
collect tribute from the "barbarians from beyond the seas." Merchants
also accompanied Zheng's voyages, Wu explained, bringing with them
silks and porcelain to trade for foreign luxuries such as spices and
jewels and tropical woods.

These voyages, Professor Wu noted, came a few decades before most of
the famous European voyages of discovery known to all Western school
children: Christopher Columbus, in 1492; Vasco da Gama, in 1498; and
Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521. However, Zheng He's fleets were
incomparable larger. According to figures presented by Professor Wu:


Number of Ships

Number of Crew

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cwDeici       12/9/2009 1:05:52 PM
British Empire before the loss of the thirteen American colonies. It had grandous potential.
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cwDeici       12/9/2009 1:07:40 PM
Then again, they learnt to fight there so went on to win the Napoleonic wars...
Maybe the British Empire at 1812... should've fought on? Probably just devestate both.
I guess the Brits in the 18'th century, before whatever degraded their military.
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cwDeici       12/9/2009 1:10:26 PM
Or the Brits before they became unpopular... their army was reasonable for the time after all though not suited for the war.
I guess the clearest answer is the USA for the two years it was alone with the bomb and the years where it could still have stomped out a Russian deterrance.
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cwDeici       12/9/2009 1:18:15 PM

"---I'd say they didnt lose to a single military loss. But a series of events the most significant in my opinion being the American Revolution which was a military defeat."

my point is - and what appears to be a spectacular lack of knowledge on history by some of the other arguments presented as a riposte, is that there is an unawareness that the British Empire is virtually the only empire in history that is not dismembered through conquest of the governing nation. every other nation that has undertaken conquest through acquisition - and has by association created an empire via extra real estate - has lost in on a baton change of conflict. the brits bankrupted - and even then they contributed more than their share of blood in both WW1 and WW2. If britain didn't have the support of her empire she would possibly have folded early in ww2. as it was, it was industrial capacity. military capacity from canada, sth africa, india, australia, new zealand, parts of africa that helped provide oxygen. the germans (and god knows why they're used as an example) had none of that empire base.

using the germans as an empire is ludicrous imo, they walked into paris twice, but they never held it - and all of their military successes were encapsulated into theatre events - neither WW2 or WW2 military victories translated into an expansion of the nation beyond the duration of military engagement. (in fact she shrunk as a result of reparations every time - not exactly the sign of a victorious empire builder)

the brits lost an american colony, but it far from dismembered the british empire - and it certainly never diminished their position as the pre-eminent naval power for almost 300 years.

the example of loss of the brit empire was also indicated as being WW2 - and that demonstrates a complete paucity of knowledge about modern history. br britain lost nothing due to ww2 via conflict. she lost it in 1947 when she formally "bankrupted" and was unable to step in to provide support greece through her troubles. that was the first clear example that she'd been militarily and somewhat politically neutered.

Word. Most impressive Empire ever.
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Hugo    Power and Empire   12/10/2009 6:03:16 AM
I question whether it is correct to include the Americas and Australia as components of an Empire.  London never genuinely administered its New England colonies which were largely self governed.  What was to become the United States, Canada and Australia were settler societies governing themselves.  In many places they adopted British law, but that was out of choice, and in many cases they did not.  Australia, Canada, and the United States do not, nor did they ever have, a nobility or aristocracy and thus did not adopt the social structures of the mother country which is telling because those social structures evolved themselves from territorial expansion.  Self-rule can also largely be observed in South Africa.  Huge swathes of land and their populations in the Americas, Australia, Africa and India had no meaningful contact with Britain.  The rule of the settler colonies differes widely from that in Ireland where Britain asserts genuine control, albeit shaky.
If we consider the Victorian era to be the height of the British Empire, then it is noted that no genuine conflict between European powers took place with only exception of the Crimean War whereby Britain, in alliance with France, the Ottomans and others only managed to gain a slight victory over the Russians and in my view exposed serious weakenesses in the British military.   
An argument could be made that Britain was so powerful that other European powers did not wish to challenge it.  But I don't think it would be valid.  So much of the world had opened up that European Powers were focussed elsewhere, the Dutch in the East Indies, the French in Africa, the Iberians in South America and so on.  Germany, after 1871 under Bismarck's leadership, made a conscious decision to not build an empire and yet her industrial and trading strength quickly outstripped those of the other European powers.  Trade on voluntary terms has proven far more prosperous and conductive to technological advancement that the often distorted trade patterns within exploitative empires.  If one looks at the great technological advancements in electricity
Other conflicts of the era included the wars against the Afghans, the Zulus, the Boers, which exposed British serious military weakness. 
Throughout the Victorian era, of the most important innovations in Mechanics, Medical Technology, Machine Tools, Physics, Consumer Goods, Electronics, Power Generation, Communication, Combustion Engines, Chemistry, Pharmaceuticals, Aeronautics, Batteries, etc extraordinarily few came from Britain who controlled one quarter of the globe's landmass. 
It can hardly be denied that Britain had, during Victoria's era, the largest Empire in terms of landmass and populace.  Her naval might was unsurpassed.  But how genuinely powerful was this Empire that it began to unravel shortly after its first major conflict, in alliance with other major powers, with a more or less a single major continental power with no Empire?  How much economic power did this Empire genuinely possess given that barely two generations after its demise I cannot think of a single product the core remnant of this Empire (Britain) produces that I purchase on a regular basis or for that matter have a memory of ever purchasing*.  A mere two generations! 
For these reasons I have to concede that the most powerful military in relative terms in the history of the world was the USA post World War Two with second place going to the Soviet Union post world war two. 
*admittedly I have given some contemplation to a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
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french stratege       12/13/2009 7:07:01 PM
It isdifficult to speak for old time since at Roman height, Chinese armies were of the same size (and Persia or India had big armies) but never encounterered themselves.
So Roman military power never excedeed probably 40% of world power.But much more as a percentage in their area.
If we speak of modern times:
A sort of equilibrium between biggest armies and naval forces before french revolution even some dominated.
After it is quite clear but we have to distinguish between naval and ground power:
France between 1805 (Austerlitz) and 1812 (destruction of the great army in Russia by starvation), managed to get much more than 1 million troops of the ground occupying all Europe and managing to mobilize 650 000 men for Russian campaign.
Probably exceeded 2/3 of world ground power at peak.
UK after Trafalgar exceeded probably 2/3 of world naval power but its army was only 10% of french army at peak.
After 1812, the  XIXth century had seen complete dominance of British naval forces during Victorian era.
After WW1 and after Russian, then German army surrendered, then British and US armies were dismantled after 1918, France still benefited of a 4,5 millions men army with experienced soldiers and perhaps more than 3/4 of the world heavy modern equipement (artillery, tanks, guns) since it has benefited of taken german equipement and US equipement (largely supplied by French) wich remain in France.
France was completly dominant on ground during a decade since it has not been dismantled.
In end of 1940, Germany seized French equipement and was alone in Europe except Russians.USA had not yet rearmed.
At least during until 1942, Germany was probably close to 50% of world power on ground.
After 1945 USA became the more dominant naval power like Britain was in XIXth century and today excess 50% of naval power and probably 70% considering quality (plus USAF support).
However post WW2 and for ground armies, neither USA nor Russia were dominant in air land battle and probably never excedeed 40% of ground world power each.
Russia was the most numerous but USA compensated easily with aircrafts and atomic weapons.
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Godofgamblers    FS   12/14/2009 2:59:24 AM
Do you consider the city of Florence at the height of the Renaissance a superpower?
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