Power or weakness is a continuum, and various types of power must be evaluated. A state may be stronger in some respects than in others. Thus a complex set of criteria is necessary to distinguish the weak states from the great powers, for the differences between them are relative rather than absolute. The existing literature on weak states in international politics often portrays them as passive pawns owing their continuing existence to the benevolence of the great powers. A realistic analysis indicates that while the weak states are frequently more vulnerable than the great powers, they are not helpless. Some weak states, notably the oil-producing countries, have already been able to gain enormous economic power and to translate it into political gains. Although the weak states may not be the principal dramatis personae in the world power play, neither is they merely small-part actors.