44

Natural resources. Advances in technology require some substance (e.g. oil, lithium, cobalt) which can only be found in useful quantities in your poor country. And the balance of power among the more powerful nations is such that none of them can get away with just invading and taking the resource. In the real world, see Saudi Arabia as an example.


41

In 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a country and the land was divided up into 15 countries, generally along boundaries of countries that existed when the Soviet Union formed in 1917, swallowing up existing countries that had been under Russian control. But this is overly simplistic and boundaries/countries were not the same as before. Yugoslavia ...


37

There's a difference between "claiming" sovereignty (lots do), realistically being able to act as a sovereign state (few do), and finally being recognized by your peers as a sovereign state (even fewer). Since the Earth has but a single dollop of unclaimed land territory outside Antarctica anymore, the dragon must get the existing recognized country to cede ...


33

Distance - the intervening mountain range, swamp, or near barren grasslands make logistics of open war extremely impractical Attitude - it just isn't worth the trouble unless they bother us first Internal politics - cold wars can be more about how the ruling class uses them to influence their own people than external politics. Maybe the distrust is mostly ...


31

You asked for problems: Attribution of attacks: A goes to war against B. Suddenly, A's forward troops within the territory of B get nuked. There are no radar traces of missiles or aircraft, and data on nuclear and non-nuclear artillery shells is highly ambiguous. Who did it? Would A sacrifice a few of their own regiments to get B taken out by cat's paws? ...


28

While there are already some good answers, it should be noted that for exampled Germany, South Korea and Japan are not economic superpowers, but mere great powers. (Germany and Japan lost political power for historical reasons and held back) I think a better example could be the European Union. definitely a large economic power politically weak due to ...


26

If most people can claim to have "seen one" that's an average of one per lifetime, or an event between once every 45 to 90 years. That's not very much. California gets on average 15-20 earthquakes of magnitude 4 yearly. Houston gets one bad Hurricane or rain event every 7 years, and that's an event that's 100 miles wide. Both of these kinds of disasters ...


24

Taking into account different historical periods is a bit tiresome, so I'll just throw my two cents here: Movable buildings: The biggest issue with your golems is that they roam the land endlessly and they have the tendency to destroy things in their way. Since the golems are probably unstoppable, the best thing your humans can do is to make way. This ...


24

One means to keeping a cold war going is the two antagonistic sides having the means of mutually assured destruction. These two empires could go to full-out war with each, but in the end, at best, one side will win. At worst, continued stale mate. With an "unlimited" supply of cheap soldiers (the serfs on the human side and humans on the dragon side) wars ...


23

So your USO wants to become a world leader. Actually that is understandable, especially given the current state of affairs around this globe. You mentioned military influence, but I will go for the other points first. For me, as a German, the US had been idolized in no small way during my youth, for being the leaders of the free world and whatnot. We have ...


22

Better administration? I honestly think that the "we found oil" answer is the simplest, but in the interests of giving an alternative, I'll answer something different. IMHO one of the wisest statements is this (paraphrased): "You do not need to run faster than the bear, just faster than the slowest of your friends." Basically, if your country is the best ...


22

HAMMER only works if the other countries can get their nukes in first, and completely destroy that countries' nuclear capacity, including nuclear submarines. MAD hinges on the fact that destroying a country does not make you survive. For example, Britain can still strike the capital city in retaliation long after the country has been reduced to ash. Rogue ...


21

As I remember, for centuries popes ruled an independent state known as the Papal States until Italy conquered it in 1860 and 1870. In 1929 a tiny independent country in the city of Rome was created, the Vatican City. The popes were the secular rulers of an independent country for centuries up to 1870, had no country to rule from 1870 to 1929, and have ruled ...


20

Throwing away the shame of the international community, which in your case consists only of the enemy and the invaded country, I think the explanation lays in the strategic equilibrium: new Venice is small, but adding its contribution to one of the parties involved would resolve the war in favor of the alliance. Let's explain this concept with some numbers, ...


20

One way would be to introduce a third party. It's neutral towards both the dragons and the knights, and it wouldn't stand a chance if it went to war with either of them. But if both the dragons and the knights believe this third party could easily overrun them if they went to war, even if they are the winners, that would be a strong motive not go to war. ...


19

Invest in your education system stressing cutting edge technologies and bribe the finest teachers from around the world to move to your country and teach. Design the curriculum to be brutally difficult, then provide prizes and loan forgiveness to any students graduating with honors levels in any of the hard sciences. Encourage non-international corporate ...


18

I highly recommend reading books by experts such as Kevin Mitnick. They can help you understand what is real hacking and what is not. In the end, hacking comes down to a simple reality. There's two ways to look at any system we create: There's what the system is supposed to do, and there's what the system actually does. Hacking abuses the fact that the ...


18

Mutually Assured Destruction Yes, it worked for Earth, it should work for your world. The main difference is that the means for destruction are asymmetric in your case. I'll assume for the question that both sides have significant defenses against each other's armies and capabilities, so that a conventional military strike at any vital point is unlikely ...


17

New Venice is a tax haven, and the leaders of both sides have got their corruptly gained money stashed there in numbered bank accounts. Neither of them is going to risk invading, and losing their money or (worse) having the banking records made public.


16

If this is used a lot by high level ambassadors, and used a lot more regularly than you indicate, they'll never be immersed in the culture of the country they are ambassador to, because they can go home on weekends or at the end of the day. It doesn't sound like most ambassadors will be going back and forth, plus the whole point of being an ambassador is ...


16

it seems almost impossible for a country to give up land for a new country. Not necessarily. There are also example of peaceful separation: Czechoslovakia is one of these. Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful ...


15

China Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said “Let China sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.” Known for years as the sleeping tiger, we've recently seen China take a more active role on the world political stage. The words of Bonaparte show that China has had the potential to exert its power on the world for some considerable time, ...


15

Quick development requires other countries to invest money. Improving on its own is always a much slower process. So, what can prompt others to invest? Natural resources. This is by far the most common scenario. Gulf countries has already moved all the way from rags to riches this way. Mineral resources other than oil would require more investments, but ...


15

Good news, it's not too hard for our friend Tunguska. The magic word is realpolitik Let's get started with her strategic profile. She's not an army - strategically, she's a walking, talking metaphor for the nuclear bomb. If her pet country were reduced to waste in a war, she could still obliterate at least one or two major cities of the offending (super)...


15

Cold War Magic when used on a large scale could have the side effect of drawing heat from the world. Maybe this is how magic works, or it could just be an accidental byproduct; either works. An all-out war would result in the mass deployment of weaponised magic by both sides, and plunge the world into a new ice age that directly kills off large swathes of ...


15

I think the best way to look at this is by seeing how long it took China to catch up to the USA's technology. 20-30 years ago, the average level of technology in China was 50-100 years outdated by Western Standards, now they have pretty comparable technologies in most areas of life; so, if you are beginning your narrative from any time period before 2000, ...


14

In all honesty, take a look at the last 50 years of Chinese history. Basically, break the rules that the other nations have to follow, or at least pay lip service to. While the rest of the world started to scale back and repair environmental damage, China allowed all sorts of projects that were hugely damaging to the environment, reducing their costs and ...


14

I don't think it's game-theory stable, because a defecting nation can force the game-ending loss decision in the hands of cooperators: I, leader of Foostanistan offer an ultimatum: I intend a limited nuclear strike on Barbaria to end our long-stalemated conventional war. If, in response, we detect an inbound HAMMERing, we will explode cobalt-laced bombs ...


14

While others are focused on surviving the roaming golems, I'm trying to imagine ways they could be exploited for profit. Once humans figured out the limit of people the golems will allow on them, they could be used for transportation. Sure, it looks like humans can't control the golem's direction, but a "driver" could send out messages to people where its ...


14

Summary: No A central government (your Inner Colonies) with enough power to fix prices on fuel and rations must have enough of a presence that it would object to Clans 'bumping' smaller outfits. Either there is law and order or there isn't, it is extremely difficult to have control only in some sectors of the economy. Corporations by and large believe that ...


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