For many people within the United States, geopolitics tend to take a back seat to the trending domestic issues of the day. With a polarizing figure leading the Executive Branch and each party hardening their positions from attack, it can be easy to lose sight of issues like America’s diplomatic leverage.

The ability to exert influence on a global scale requires a number of different important focuses maintained in a form of equilibrium. A powerful military presence in a region will certainly bolster the chances that a foreign government will take your concerns seriously, but that strength must be tempered with an apparent willingness to talk, mediate, and negotiate. This is why the historic one-two punch of America’s Defense and State Departments have long relied on one another to keep the nation’s international standing where it needs to be.

In order to exert that same sort of diplomatic leverage globally, the same ingredients are required, but spread out over a much larger swath of territory. The immense cost associated with having both a formidable military and diplomatic presence the world over is so dramatic, in fact, that today, only one nation maintains that capacity: the United States.

However, that singular distinction may soon come to an end, as China rapidly moves to expand their own military capabilities to match their own trade-based diplomatic power.