History has proved that certain grand ideas - once believed to be self-evident - are (or became?) wrong.
One such error was the idea that you need to have a large land mass if your nation has a large population (Germany). Another such error was the idea that it takes a colonial empire for a country to be rich & powerful (UK, France, Spain - falsified by Germany during the late 19th century). Yet another example is the idea that a country needs guaranteed access to natural resources (preferably on its own or its colonies' soil) to be a rich industrial nation. This has been falsified post-WW2 by both Western European and East Asian nations.
Finally, one misconception seems to persist at least among some people: The idea that it takes military might - even the ability of "power projection" (being able to defeat some distant country) to be a Great Power.
There is no doubt that apart from the independent nuclear deterrent, great power status requires independent conventional military capacity.
by Alexander Woolfson
Uhm, no. There IS doubt. In fact, modern lists of Great Powers include several countries which don't even aspire to either an independent nuclear deterrent nor an independent conventional military capacity (of the kind that Woolfson had in mind).
Let's look at an easily accessible example: Wiki
Or let's look at a blog that focuses on Great Power stuff;
I could easily add other sources, but these two should suffice to show that there IS doubt.
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Japan was driven into its disastrous WW2 experience by a misguided belief that it needed direct access to foreign resources for prosperity.
Britain, France and Portugal fought series of wars (hundreds!) to build and maintain empires that did little for their prosperity. The same effort spent domestically would probably have yielded better results.
Spain was domestically broken by the economic and political effects of its colonial empire in the 16th to 18th century.
Germany got into WW2 for an asshole's stupid idea that it required a huge territory because its homeland would be too small for its greatness or whatever.
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Today, some nations waste resources on inflated defence budgets and risk going to war over marginal topics (because some politicians cannot resits the military big stick once they have it at their disposal).
No, Britain does NOT need an independent nuclear deterrent and it does not need expeditionary forces that can cruise to some distant country and beat it up or occupy it. That's not what it takes to be a Great Power.
Great Powers are about influence, about relevance. Great Powers are those powers who must not be ignored in a large share of global conflicts and political matters. These conflicts and matters are nowadays almost always peaceful - unless certain Western countries launch a war.
Good relations with Commonwealth nations, the permanent UNSC seat, the UNSC veto right, the ability to assist with expertise and money in times of trouble, being leading advocate of mutually beneficial multinational agreements, a "honest broker" reputation in regard to the moderation of international conflicts - that would ensure Britain's Great power status in the 21st century.
A broke country with nukes and an expeditionary military that gets involved in needless wars of choice would not be a good Great Power, if one at all. Most importantly, such a recipe is not going to help the country to prosper socially and culturally.
P.S.: And then there's the question who's luckier; a Great Power or a country like Luxembourg?!