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Soft Power: The Means To Success In World Politics [Kindle Edition]

Joseph S. Nye Jr.
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Joseph Nye coined the term "soft power" in the late 1980s. It is now used frequently—and often incorrectly—by political leaders, editorial writers, and academics around the world. So what is soft power? Soft power lies in the ability to attract and persuade. Whereas hard power—the ability to coerce—grows out of a country's military or economic might, soft power arises from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals, and policies.

Hard power remains crucial in a world of states trying to guard their independence and of non-state groups willing to turn to violence. It forms the core of the Bush administration's new national security strategy. But according to Nye, the neo-conservatives who advise the president are making a major miscalculation: They focus too heavily on using America's military power to force other nations to do our will, and they pay too little heed to our soft power. It is soft power that will help prevent terrorists from recruiting supporters from among the moderate majority. And it is soft power that will help us deal with critical global issues that require multilateral cooperation among states. That is why it is so essential that America better understands and applies our soft power. This book is our guide.

Product Description


"One of America's foremost experts on foreign policy delivers his "indispensable" guide to reshaping America's role in the world (Publishers Weekly)"

About the Author

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. He is the author of several books, including The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone and Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. PublicAffairs will publish his political thriller, The Power Game, in Fall 2004.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 553 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1586483064
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; New Ed edition (28 April 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GKIY2U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #141,412 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carrot or stick? What really works in diplomacy? 27 April 2008
This book is a very important analysis of soft power. Soft power is a loose term whereby a country improves its reputation and ability to persuade others by its actions and principles, rather than its overt and covert threats to bully others.

The author argues that power exists on three dimensions - military, economic and cultural. The author argues that America is the unrivalled master of "hard" power as the world's only military super power. But on the soft power dimensions of trade/economy and popular culture, America is nowhere near as all triumphant. The author feels that America must pay attention to developing its soft power if it is to remain dominant, and not have to rely on its hard power. Given the difficulties in Iraq, America more than ever needs to cultivate its soft power, which the author feels is well within America's capability.

There is also an interesting analysis of the history of soft power, such as when the USSR used ballet tours to promote Soviet/communist culture in the West, and America's use of jazz music on Radio Free Europe broadcasts into the Iron Curtain. The fact that soft power initiatives can sometimes have multiple and contradictory affects it also examined. For example, a Hollywood film in Iran may make young people like America more, but may make Iran's ruling mullahs hate it more.

All in all, this book is the definitive work on the subject of soft power. This is a must read for anyone interested in politics, current affairs or diplomacy.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive 9 May 2011
By Melike
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So smooth, so fluent... Once you start, not easy to leave the book on the table and turn back. Great explanations with simple words; repetitive in some parts, but an amazing source to understand the "Soft power", and its power on the nations. Criticizes the Bush administration freely. Some explanations and opinions are just breathtaking and unbelievable.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking 21 Dec. 2007
By Mr X
I like this book and certainly rate it but I am a harsh scorer, hence the 3 which might seem low to others.

I think the ideas contained in the book are very good ones and should certainly be heeded by western governments if they are to avoid finding the political environment of the mid twenty-first century much less well disposed towards them than the current one (and the current environment is not brilliant).

Mr Nye is clearly a clever man who has considered the issue of soft power (getting other countries to do what you want them to (or at least not hinder you doing things) because they are attracted to your culture and values) in depth and has come up with very interesting points to consider. He makes the point that governments can often give out messages that are contradictory and quickly lose the goodwill they have earnt with foreigners over a long period by ill-thought out actions. This point is well worth considering in light of the current problematic policies being adopted in the Middle East by western governments. The issue will become even more problematic given western governments' propensity to grow.

The two criticisms I have are (1) there is a large reliance placed in opinion polls and as we know statictics can be found that will support most arguments, and (2) some of the early part of the book is quite theroetical (but admittedly this improves later and the book becomes more practical and interesting).

Definitely worth reading, especially as it is only about 150 pages long.
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