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The Future of Power Paperback – December 13, 2011
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Harvard professor Nye, who served in the state and defense departments of the Carter and Clinton administrations, respectively, was among the first to promulgate the notion of soft power and, subsequently, smart power�a concept the Obama administration seems to have fully embraced. But here Nye gives �smart power� far more depth and nuance than merely marrying force and persuasion. Rather, it involves setting clear and manageable objectives, understanding the resources available within dynamic circumstances, understanding the sensibilities of the targets of a country�s objectives, choosing among �power strategies,� and anticipating the success of those strategies. If the book sounds wonky, it is. But Nye brings specific historical examples to give life to his far-ranging understanding of power, and he realistically sets his book amid the complex dynamics of the world�s geopolitical players. Given Nye�s prominence in the diplomatic community, this volume is likely to attract considerable attention. --Alan Moores --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Excellent...Nye offers an illuminating distillation of the power relationships shaping a world in which the state with the best military can lose to the adversary with the better story."―The Financial Times
"As power moves from west to east and from the palaces of dictators to the street, it is not just the identities of power brokers that are changing: so is the very meaning of power. No one is better placed to explain these trends than the scholar-statesman Joe Nye... The Future of Power contains important essays on both 'cyber power' and 'American decline', but what is most useful is Nye's subtle exegesis of the mechanics of more conventional forms of power."―The New Statesman
"A concise, forceful statement of what Nye refers to as the liberal realist position in the US academy and in US politics... (which) paints a plausible scenario for the continuance of the US at the heart of the international system."―Times Higher Education Supplement
"While the British generally take a wary attitude to international gurus, it is worth bearing in mind that what Nye... think(s) today has a habit of becoming the global consensus tomorrow."―Mary Dejevksy, The Independent
Top customer reviews
The Future of Power is not a page turner, but Nye's work displays a deep understanding of how power works globaly. Few other authors posses such a comprehensive view into the mechanics of word power.
One can choose to maintain their preconceived notions about power, but after reading this book, it becomes clear that such people will be swept aside by the future that Nye describes so clearly. Your understanding of power will never be the same. We are at an inflection point in world history, and our traditional understanding of extrapolating the past into the future will not be a guide for what is coming next, but this book will be such a guide. If I had to use single words to describe what is in this book, I would say:
Nye comes to us with extraordinary credentials. The fact that he was Dean of the Harvard School of Government (JFK School) for several years, I do not hold against him. His work in government including high positions at the National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, and the Defense Department have allowed him both influence, and the ability to evolve on a real world basis.
ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK
The book is divided into 7 chapters spread over 235 pages divided into three parts:
Part I Types of Power
Part II Power Shifts - Diffusions and Transitions
Part III Policy
Of the 7 chapters, I found four to be so original that they are completely unique, and Nye's understanding or framework as to how the world works is not to be missed. They are:
Chapter 2) Military Power
Chapter 3) Economic Power
Chapter 4) Soft Power
Chapter 6) Power Transition: The Question of America's Decline
WHAT NYE IS TELLING US?
Nye is telling us what the future holds, we merely have to grasp onto it, and absorb it. This book is in the same league and influence, as Carroll Quigley's Tragedy and Hope. Quigley, the Georgetown University master historian who influenced Bill Clinton and his thinking more than any other scholar in Clinton's career.
Nye believes that those who think America is in a serious state of decline are mistaken because the traditional tools used to measure such a statement are no longer applicable. Power is no longer measured in nuclear missiles, military forces, or pounds of steel produced by an industrial economy. Power as Nye defines it now has to do with soft power, smart power, influence, persuasion and trust. Smart Power is a combination of the hard power of coercion and partly with the soft power of persuasion.
Joseph Stalin the Soviet dictator once asked how many divisions does the Pope have? Fifty years later, Russia and Stalin are relegated to the ash heaps of history and the Pope survives. The Defense Department spends $650 billion per year on Hard Power while the State Department spends $36 billion per year on Soft Power. David Hume the 18th century philosopher once said that "No human is strong enough to dominate all others acting alone". Today we can say the same thing about countries. India two centuries ago with 300 million was dominated by 100,000 British soldiers. In the 1800's France conquered Algeria with 34,000 troops. In the 20th century 600,000 members of the French Foreign Legion could not hold Algeria together.
We must no longer measure power in resources, or units of production. We must begin to measure it in terms of preferred outcomes. Our country represents only 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's production. We shall probably maintain our position versus the world for the rest of this century, but only if we learn to understand the new dimensions of Power and how to evolve with them. This book unlike any other will begin to show us how, if we want to.
IS NYE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT AMERICA?
There have been 9 world wars since 1500, and what Nye is looking for now is the reemergence of China as a world power which it once was from 500 AD to 1500 AD before declining in the face of Western power from 1500 AD to this century. What Nye so wisely points out is that an economy equal in total size to ours does not mean EQUALITY.
America does not have to lose power, hard or soft. In fact the rest of the world is years behind our hard power. By ourselves we represent 45% of the entire world's defense expenditures - too much by any standard.
It is time to dramatically increase our soft power expenditures, to continue to maintain our edge, and perhaps expand upon it. As China continues to grow, they will have to consume themselves with the more than 1 billion have-nots in their society. They have over a billion people with less than 85 million doing well. There is no health care to speak of, and all of this has to change and be factored into what will happen to their economy and nobody, certainly not American economists are getting it right.
This book demands to be read, and analyzed, and thought over. Nye is perhaps unique in his understanding of power. To read this book is to be transformed, and enlightened, and certainly to see things differently than you thought they were. I loved it and believe you will too, and thank you for reading this review.
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