Joseph Nye’s Soft Power and Hard power

7 July 2016

In the field of International Relations, Joseph S. Nye Jr. has developed a theory about the concept of power he coined ‘soft power’ in his 1990 book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. A former United States assistant Secretary of Defense, and Dean of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as well as the chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, Joseph S. Nye Jr. is a political scientist. Considered to be the National Security Advisor during the 2005 United States presidential election, Nye is one of the most recognized liberal theorists in the field of International Relations and foreign policy.

More than four decades ago, Nye has published many works where the predominant theme is about the notion of power and success in world politics. Nye’s most recent publication was The Future of Power in 2011, however his most influential work, apart from the book he co-authored with Robert Keohane, Power and Interdependence (1977) , was Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. In his 1990 book, Nye describes what the concept of ‘soft power’ with regards to the international relations and domestic affairs for nations.

Joseph Nye’s Soft Power and Hard power Essay Example

According to Nye, the nature of power is much easier to ‘experience’ than to conceptualize, and this is evident when he wrote, “…Power is like the weather. Everyone depends on it and talks about it, but few understand it…we first need to recognize some basic distinctions among the terms power. ” Traditionally, in international politics the “strength of war” was seen as the only determining factor of great power. However, over time the world has changed, developed and improved, especially through technology and globalization. Similarly, the sources of power have also changed in regards to the type.

Nye explains ‘soft power’ as a method that involves “attracting others to your agenda in world politics…getting others to want what you want,” essentially to obtain an outcome in “you want. ” To provide further context on the theory of ‘soft power,’ Ernest Wilson’s proposes, “in international politics, having ‘power’ is the ability to influence another to act in ways in which that entity would not have otherwise acted. ” Furthermore, Nye outlines that the general concept of the theory is that rather than a country using ‘hard power’ threats, such as Military power and economic power. This paper will address both the benefits and drawbacks

associated with the implementation of ‘soft power’ by analyzing its impact on American power, the United Nations, and the significance of the theory’s reformation into ‘smart power. ’ In international affairs, ‘soft power’ is most widely held definition and now used commonly used among political leaders, and academics. In addition to ‘soft power,’ Nye expanded on the theory; moreover the definition of power had a wider-range than simply one type of power. In contrast to the theory of ‘soft power is hard power,’ which Nye claims, are the use of the Military and how good a country’s economy is.

Recently, Nye has coined and created another concept from combining both ‘soft power’ and ‘hard power,’ he calls it ‘smart power. ’ The first section of this paper will analyze the impact of the theory of ‘soft power’ on the US, and whether the use of ‘soft power’ over ‘hard power’ is effective. The second issue this paper will examine is how the international stage is affected by the theory of ‘soft power’ through studying the role of the United Nation. The last section of this paper will discuss what the causes are behind the gradual development of the theory from ‘soft power’ to ‘smart power’ and whether the change is good or not.

II. The Impact of Soft Power in the United States In the United States, ‘soft power’ has been exclusively used and successfully employed in America. The international political context, the US’s ‘sheer might’ is undeniably apparent and Nye states, “no opposing army would dare to challenge it on a level playing field. ” Although this statement contends that due to America’s use of ‘hard power’ it will essentially be able to do whatever they please, and receive the outcomes they choose. Many International Relations theorists talk about power and politics in terms of ‘hard power.

’ The term ‘hard power’ refers to tangible materials; such as the Military and how many tanks a country has, for example. However, according to Nye, American cannot operate solely with its ‘hard power’ if it expects to successfully influence its interests around the world. In fact, as America’s strong Military power has increased, “its ability to persuade is at low ebb in many parts of the world, even among its oldest allies. ” Therefore, it is safe to assume that in order for the US to further excel its dominant power globally, the country should consider the possibilities of using soft power’ rather than ‘hard power,’ or combining

both resources. Consequently, there are other means and sources of power from which the US has the potential to influence their interests to others successfully. Under some American leaders, the design and model of the American foreign policy has been operating under a flawed perception of good conduct and is in need of repair. Although the US appears to be lacking considerable ‘soft power,’ under the current Presidential Administration, the US has attempted to supplement ‘hard power’ for ‘soft power.

’ For example, the Peace Corps (PC) and voluntary private organizations (PVO) have helped increase US ‘soft power’ by delivering new sources of power. Specifically, the PC and PVO join forces and create Peace Corps Volunteers (PVC) who share their cultural or ideological values with others, for example human rights, and influence others to wanting similar things. In turn, the significance of using this form of ‘soft power’ increases positive attention, but more importantly the power of the US on an international level is raised or increased.

Therefore, the theory of ‘soft power’ creates a positive impact for the US and helps plays a major role in determining the country’s position, in regards to power and authority. Conversely, challenges have been brought upon Nye’s ‘soft power’ from critics arguing that no government can achieve influence over other countries or implement its aspirations without ‘hard power,’ more so military power. According to realists, such as Hans Morgenthau, soft power cannot deal with almost every world threat.

For example, the recent intervention of the American foreign policy in the Middle East did not aid the US increase power, but rather in these cases the use of ‘soft power’ backfired. This is evident in the fallout in Libya, Yemen, and Egypt. The unintended consequences in Libya of the attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other American embassy staff. The situation in the Libya and the Middle East is an example of how the efforts of Obama’s Administration to incorporate ‘soft power’ tactics were ineffective.

However, other ‘moral realists’ assume that hard power alone is “self-defeating, and that and that nothing imperils America’s global stature so much as the amoral drift of U. S. foreign policy under the sway of multinational corporatism. ” Whereas other cases suggest that using ‘soft power’ identifies a sense of weakness in a country political ability to obtaining their goals and may not always produce the desired outcomes. Ultimately, governments have the choice whether or not to follow the model of ‘soft power’ and learn to effectively use it to obtain the outcomes they desire. III.

Soft Power and International Politics When Joseph Nye, Jr. introduced the concept of ‘soft power’ he did not limit the theory to the US or other similar strong nation. He noted that the notion of ‘soft power’ could be developed more “credibly abroad. ” After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, ‘soft power’ has significantly become increasing in importance on a global scale around the world. With respect to international politics, Nye argues that there cannot be “global stability without the help of others” and the cooperation of international institutions, such as the United Nations.

With no military forces of its own and a fairly low financial budget, it would seem the United Nations was an international institution built entirely on the foundation of relying on borrowed ‘hard power’ from other states. Created in 1945, the United Nations replaced its predecessor the League of Nation that failed in the 1930s, and acted as “the servant of its member states…protects the sovereign jurisdiction of its members. Designed to undertake the role of ‘policemen’ to enforce national, and collective security it was evident that the UN had and abundant influence of ‘hard power.

’ Evidence of the impact of the UN’s ‘ hard power’ was demonstrated in the exceptional cases that were the Korean War and first Gulf War. Nevertheless, the UN also has substantial international influence on countries through its use of the concepts of ‘soft power. ’ For example, the UN has the ability to “legitimize the actions of states” especially with respect to permitting or accepting an authority’s use of power. For example, according to Nye, the invasion of Iraq by the US Military sanctioned by the Bush Administration in 2003 could not have prevented.

Undeniably, the UN remains a significant source of power and legitimacy around the world. Moreover, in terms of the international implications of Nye’s ‘soft power,’ the UN has demonstrated how useful soft power has been. Particularly, when used towards great powerful nations like the US. Albeit there are some limits to the UN’s ability and actions under ‘soft power,’ the concept is very much real, and deserves to be partly credited for the UN’s sustainability. IV. Evolution of Concepts of Power After the significant formulation and implementation of the theory of ‘soft power,’ Nye continues to develop his theory further.

Originally, Nye separated the notion of power to be studied as two different ‘types’ – hard and soft. However, now the attention has shifted towards a newer principle, which he calls ‘smart power. ’ The CSIS: Commission on Smart Power report describe ‘smart power’ as, “developing an integrated strategy, resources base, and tool kit to achieve American objectives, drawing on both hard and soft power. ” The notion of soft power is that it is not necessarily ‘hard power’ or ‘soft power. ’ The assumption under this approach, Nye emphasizes the importance of having both a powerful military, as well as “heavily invested in alliances.

” Since the introduction of ‘smart power,’ it has received continuous interest and attention. A reason why ‘smart power’ is to be taken seriously and considered an effective instrument is evident in the US politics. Wilson suggests, ‘the most obvious reason to reflect seriously on smart power is because of the widely perceived shortcomings of the policies of the U. S. administration over the past seven years. ” There is a universal notion that the foreign policies under the Bush Administration were not ‘smart.

’ As a consequence, the security interests of the US have been compromised, along with “unprecedented resentment” from the global community, which ultimately weakened the US’s position in power. However, according to the CSIS Commission’s report, the US regained the framework of power dominance as well as became a ‘smart power’ because the country invested in the “global good” V. Conclusion Political Science analyst, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. was a very influential International Relations theorist who created the theory of ‘soft power’ from the notion of ‘hard power,’ and further improved the concept of power by developing ‘smart power.

’ The notion of ‘soft power’ has been the critical problem-solving model for a variety of issues, for example, the global economy, and terrorism. Overall, Nye’s concepts of power play a vital role in all areas of study. The notion of ‘soft power’ has had it’s weaknesses from critics about the theory being misappropriated to mean insufficient power or a sign of weakness, nevertheless, ‘soft power’ has evidently been strong for many countries, in particular the United States. Ultimately, Nye’s concept of ‘soft power’ has proven to be more of an effective tool than not in international relations.

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