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Soft Power: The Means To Success In World Politics Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482251
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is an indispensable book for anyone wondering what sort of changes to expect in U.S. foreign policy should the Democrats retake the White House later this year. Nye (The Paradox of American Power, etc.), now dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, was an assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and is certain to be a key player in a new Democratic administration. In fact, this book could all but guarantee it. Nye's careful analysis of the shortcomings of unilateralism and reliance solely on military power in confronting the threat posed by Islamic extremists is strong, all the more so because it is virtually devoid of partisanship. He gives credit to President Bush and his neoconservative advisers in their projection of "hard" military and economic power. But he shows how what he casts as their blindness to the significance of "soft" power seriously undermines hard power. Soft power—"the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion"—is cultivated through relations with allies, economic assistance and cultural exchanges with other countries, projecting a sense that U.S. behavior corresponds with rhetorical support for democracy and human rights and, more generally, maintaining favorable public opinion and credibility abroad. The go-it-alone approach, Nye argues, has led to an unprecedented drop in support for the U.S. abroad, which leaves us scrambling to rebuild Iraq almost singlehandedly, overstretching ourselves militarily and economically. It also hampers efforts to secure the voluntary cooperation of foreign governments essential to dismantling terrorist cells spread throughout the globe. The answer, Nye says, lies in a return to the mix of soft and hard power that cemented the Western alliance and won the Cold War.
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Review

"This is an indispensable book..." -- Publishers Weekly, March 1, 2004

"[Nye] combines a theoretical argument about the nature of power in the modern, interdependent world with a practical critique..." -- Washington Post Book World, April 25, 2004

"[P]olicy makers who are reshaping America's world role and contemplating the decline of American prestige will find ... [this novel] indispensable. " -- Dallas Morning News, June 20, 2004

"mixture of a general primer on the topic and an appeal for more use of this tool of foreign policy." -- The Economist, April 22, 2004

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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It presents the case for diplomacy over military intervention very well.
Charles J. Rector
The concept of soft power is not very wide-ranging, and this subject matter would be presented better in a short but hard-hitting journal article.
doomsdayer520
Nye's work and concept has been adopted by the power structure of the PRC.
Jonathan D. Bradley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you don't read a lot, and especially if you did not read the author's two extraordinary works on "Understanding International Relations" and "The Paradox of American Power,", this is the book for you. This is a dumbed down inexplicit version of his more carefully documented ideas from the earlier books, and especially the second one.
I do want to emphasize that this book is worth reading if you only have time for one book (or you could read all my reviews instead--they are free), because I am going to be severely critical of the book in a professional sense.
First, this book does not focus at all on the most important soft power of all, that of a strategic culture. Others have documented how North Vietnam whipped the United States, not with firepower, but with political will deeply rooted in a strategic culture that was superior to that of the United States of America.
Second, despite the author's earlier service as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the book gives cursory attention to intelligence reform, and does not mention, at all, open source intelligence (disclosure: my pet rock). It is especially weak in failing to point out that the Department of State's one chance to be effective within US politics and the US policy arena lies with its potential dominance of legally and ethically available information in 29+ languages.
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Format: Hardcover
We all know what "hard" power is: You can make someone do whatever you want them to do . . . either by coercion or by intimidation backed up by the potential for coercion. What is "soft" power? That's the subject that Kennedy School dean Joseph S. Nye, Jr. explores in this interesting book.
Dean Nye originally coined the term "soft power" so he's a good person to develop the concept. He sees government power coming from three sources: Military power; economic power; and soft power. Military power is all bout coercion, deterrence and protection through threats and force. Government pursues this path through war, coercive diplomacy, and alliances. Economic power is the carrot and the stick enforced through payments and sanctions. Payments take the form of aid and bribes, and sanctions can be anything from boycotts to interdictions.
Soft power looks at the other hand from the gloved fist: Attraction and agenda setting. Countries use their values, culture, policies and institutions to make inroads as applied through various forms of diplomacy.
These themes are explored in the context of the Cold War, the policies of the Clinton and two Bush administrations, and the war on terror. In making his arguments, Dean Nye addresses philosophical arguments made by conservative and neo-conservative thinkers who favor the fist in all situations (including unilateral action), and provides examples of what has and has not worked.
Dean Nye's basic point is that a country should use both its hard and its soft power to obtain the best results. He analyzes what this means for the major countries in the world in specifics (the choices for Finland are a lot different than for the United States or Japan).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By JON STRICKLAND on May 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Soft Power, by Joseph Nye, Jr., is an interesting publication that blends together contemporary events and brief American history lessons to support his theme that America?s success in its war on terrorism must rely on properly balancing two types of power. The first is hard power, which Mr. Nye identifies as a state?s ability to use economic or military might to force other nations to comply with particular sanctions or directives. Mr. Nye declares that many in our government have mistaken this power as the only wielding influence that can be used to attain victory during times of war and that the other type of power is often ignored or never acknowledged. This second type of power, whose identification has been introduced and coined by Mr. Nye, is soft power. Soft power, which ?arises from the attractiveness of a country?s culture, political ideals, and policies? is the ability of that country to persuade other nations to share its objectives or desired outcomes.
At the introduction, Mr. Nye acknowledges that hard power, through force, can be used to conquer one state or, at most, a few states in the name of fighting terrorism. However, he asserts that it, alone, cannot create an international cooperation of governments to hunt down every person who serves as a threat to world peace. This latter objective, Mr. Nye proclaims, can be met by merging the coercive presence of hard power with the persuasive influences of soft power and that this combination is an effective approach to forming a coalition of nations. To draw a bold line of distinction between hard power, by itself, and the union of hard and soft power, Joseph Nye quotes Newt Gingrich, who comments that the measuring rod of success is not how many enemies are killed but, instead, how many allies are gathered.
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