- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780195161106
- ISBN-13: 978-0195161106
- ASIN: 0195161106
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.7 x 5.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,394,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone 1st Edition
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"This elegantly constructed essay is about why an unrivalled military and economic power still needs allies or partners, and why, as world leader, America should rely also on the soft, persuasive kind of power: the appeal of its values and culture."--The Economist
"This reasoned and timely essay on the uses of power makes a valuable contribution to American public discourse."--Publishers Weekly
"Admirably compact...illuminating."--Christian Science Monitor
"Joseph Nye--consistently one of the wiser heads around--has produced, yet again, a lucid, forceful critique of American foreign policy and a sensible, far-sighted prescription for making American power more palatable and more effective around the world. In the wake of September 11, The Paradox of American Power could hardly be more timely. It reflects Nye's multiple experiences in government as well as his perspective as a scholar and thinker."--Strobe Talbott, Yale University
"Joe Nye is one of the most astute observers of the changing nature of international politics. His new book provides an excellent framework for viewing U.S. role in the 21st century and especially after the events of September 11."--Madeleine Albright
About the Author
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, was Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and an Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, he is the author several books, including Governance in a Globalizing World and Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power.
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Nye says, among other things, that the world is no longer the realm of an unipolar power (USA). According to him, it is necessary to distinguish three dimensions of power.
The first dimension is interstate military issues, and it is dominated by USA. We can say that this dimension of power is unipolar. However, there are other dimensions: the economic one, and the dimension regarding transnational issues.
The economic dimension of power deals with interstate economic issues, and has many important actors (for example the EU, Japan, and other relevant players). Nye highlights the fact that this second dimension is multipolar: USA needs the cooperation of other states, in order to achive its objectives.
Finally, the third dimension takes into account transnational issues such as global warming and and terrorism. In this case the structure of power is disperse, and the number of relevant state and nonstate increases exponentially.
Joseph Nye Jr. also says that the importance of the military dimension, that involves hard power, is likely to diminish in the future. On the other hand, he predicts that the relevance of the other two dimensions, more soft power oriented, is going to increase, due to many factors (for example, the information revolution). However, a state has to take into account not only soft power but also hard power in order to achieve success in its policies.
He also tries to make the idea of the three dimensions of power more easily understandable by comparing power to a three-dimensional chessboard, where you have to play in the three dimensions if you want to win. The problem, according to him, is that USA is increasingly paying attention only to the military dimension of power, and due to that it is likely to have more than a few problems in the long term. A onedimensional player in a three dimensional game can only lose...
On the whole, a very good book that can help you to understand better what is happening today ... Recommended !!!
The first chapter covers familiar territory for Nye witha a discussion of power, particularly what Nye calls soft power or the power of ideas and culture. In this chapter, Nye convincingly states that there is more to power than just a strong military and that the U.S. has to cultivate its soft power as well. Nye also discusses potential competitors here, such as China and Europe and how these countries could challenge the U.S.
Chapters two and three discuss the emergence of an information revolution and globalization, respectively, and how both of these phenomena can and will change the global environment. Nye is making the case for how the U.S. can stay on top, and while some might fault him for that, this book is not a call for U.S. dominance to the detriment of others; it is a call for a more responsible and responsive U.S. that will benefit the vast majority of other countries.
Chapter four deals with domestic issues such as the economy and education and how these issues could potentially undermine American power. Chapter five concludes the book with the theme of redefining the national interest. This final chapter is particularly helpful because it provides real ideas for what the U.S. should be doing in the world and how doing it will benefit us in the long run. That is perhaps the most impressive idea he articulates in this book...that we should do all we can now to create a world that will be more congenial to our basic values in preparation for a time when we might not have the level of power and influence we have now.
Even though Nye barely mentions it, the ultimate validation of this book is to look at what's happening in Iraq. It is clearly a problem the U.S. can't handle on its own and one that has been made worse because the types of recommendations that Nye makes have been ignored. The book is eerily prophetic when viewed through this particular lens. You could easily think that Nye was writing this book in 2005 or 2006 as a response to Iraq, rather than 2001-02. Nye's basic premise holds true here and that is that the U.S. will be better off if we can get other countries to want to help us.
What stands out about this book the most to me is that it can be largely interpreted as a response to the Bush administration, but Nye hardly mentions Bush or specific Bush policies at all. Rather than producing just another boring and predictable polemic against Bush (who certainly deserves strong criticism), Nye has produced a wonderfully precise critique of post 9/11 American policy that blends pragmatism and realism in a way that reminds me of Noah Feldman (another great author I would highly recommend).
The Paradox of American Power, while not necessarily an easy read, should still be read by anyone that cares about the direction American foreign policy is going. I feel better about our government knowing that someone like Nye was on the inside. Hopefully he'll find his way into an influential position in the McCain administration in 2009.