Part 1 The Future of Power

Part1: The Future of Power

TheFuture of Power

HowDoes Nye define Power?

Nosingle definition of power is universally accepted, with every userreflecting their interests and values in expressing theirunderstanding of the concept. While some are of the opinion thatpower is the ability to make or resist change, others claim that itis the ability to achieve what they want. This extensive definitionis inclusive of power over humans as well as nature. Based on Nye’spersonal preferences, he chooses to make use of the dictionarydefinition which states that power is the ability to do things. Undersocial circumstances, power has the ability to influence other peopleto do what the dominant individual wants, thereby achieving theoutcomes they want (Nye, 2011).

Whatis “Smart Power”?

Smartpower has been defined as the mix of hard supremacy characterized byforce and payment, with the soft authority that is set apart byattraction and persuasion. Smart power brings the two together in abid to produce effective strategies. Contrary to soft influence,smart power offers evaluative and descriptive aspects, a factor thathas led to its embracement and availability by many state andnon-state actors. Norway, for instance, with its small population of5 million has continued to enhance its beauty with peacemaking anddevelopment policies. The country has also become an active andeffective NATO participant. On the flip side is China, one of themost populous countries in the world. In the recent past, the countryhas been a growing power both economically and militarily. To embracesmart power, China has made the conscious decision to invest in softpower so as to dilute its otherwise hard supremacy appearance,thereby developing a smart strategy.

Smartauthority addresses the core of the problem in issues of powerconversion. As earlier stated, some state and non-state actors areendowed with immense resources of power in comparison to others, yetthey fail in effectively converting these assets to the strategiesthat produce desired outcomes. However, it is crucial for a countryto comprehend the full range of its power resources and alsorecognize the problems that arise in their combination for them tobear effective power conversion strategies.

Hardand soft powers have been known to either reinforce one another, orto undercut each other, thereby requiring perfect contextualintelligence in comprehending their interactions under differentcircumstances. For instance when it comes to world politics, it ismore likely that parties would opt for military power (hard power) insolving problems. However, Nye is of the opinion that smart power (anincorporation of soft and hard power) is more favorable for worldpolitics since the military is never in a position to createfavorable conditions by itself. The 2006 Secretary of Defense, DonaldRumsfeld, asserted this during the Bush government’s global war onterror when he said that the most critical battles would take placein newsrooms and not in Afghanistan or Iraqi battle fields as wouldbe the common belief. With these sentiments, it became clear thatwinning hearts and minds was a powerful tool, though all this neededthe United States to improve on its conversation skills (Nye, 2011).

Whatrole does the military play in the smart power equation?

Thesimple mention of the term “military power” automatically sendsan individual’s thoughts to the resources that constitute andcharacterize hard power including soldiers, planes, ships, tanks, andmachine guns among others. However, Nye advocates for a closer lookat military power, stating that there exists a lot more attached totheir resources and behavior. For a long time, military resourceshave been used in providing protection to ally states and assistingfriends. This, in addition to fighting on behalf of friends can beused to stimulate soft power. Using non-coercive and benign resourcesof the military may act as a critical source of soft power normallycharacterized by acts of persuasion, framing agendas and attractionin world politics.

Historyteaches that the great empires in the past were shaped by war.According to philosopher David Hume though, there is no single humanbeing capable of dominating all others with his strength alone. Itrequires the intervention of soft power to be in the position toattract the henchmen that will assist him apply coercion on a largerscale. The Rome Empire for instance, reinforced its conquests byattracting the conquered barbarians through offering them Romancitizenship. The spread of Islam also joins this category as itattracted followers by spreading belief as opposed to using force ofthe sword.

Thecounter-insurgency doctrine of today’s military forces stresses onthe importance of winning over peoples’ hearts and minds. This wasgreatly experienced in 2006 when the American military rediscoveredthe doctrine. Supervised by General David Petraeus, the U.S.Army/ Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual borrowedlessons from other experiences including the French, Vietnam and theBritish, where the top priority shifted from destroying the enemy tosecuring the civilian populace. Offensive operations were downplayed,with emphasis being placed on winning minds and hearts of thecivilians. This introduced soft power into the strategies of themilitary thereby incorporating the two to come up with smart power.While hard power cleared insurgents and held an area, soft controlfollowed right behind with acts of building roads, schools andclinics for the local people. They discovered that in certaincircumstances, more force is less effective (Nye, 2011).

Summarizethe soft power behaviors of agenda setting, attraction and persuasion

Power,according to Nye, is the ability to influence other peoples’behavior with the aim of achieving one’s preferred outcomes. Thismay be achieved through coercion with threats, inducing with paymentsor attracting them and then co-opting them so that their desiresmatch yours. This is soft power, which refers to the ability toaffect other people through agenda setting, persuasion andattraction.

Aparticular country is able to obtain power because other countrieswant to follow it. The other countries will follow because theyadmire its values, emulate its examples and aspire to achieve itslevel of openness and prosperity. As a result, the particular countrymust set its agenda so as to attract the attention of others. This istantamount to making others want the outcomes that they want.Resources of gaining soft power are the assets that attract otherplayers who want to be like them. Co-optive power affects others’behaviors by shaping their preferences to match those of the powerfulparty. Agenda setting is applied by making use of ideas andinstitutions to frame actions that term the preferences of others asirrelevant. With this, there is no need to push them into carryingout the wishes of the powerful parties, because their preferenceshave already been shaped by influencing their expectations. Thepowerful actors make sure that during setting of the agendas, theless powerful actors are kept out, or that rules have been set beforehand by the powerful players. With this, the less powerful areco-opted into accepting the preferences of others, where they arefurther attracted and persuaded to be like them (Nye, 2011).

Thisis further illustrated by the automobiles industry. As much as thechoice of big, sleek and stylish automobiles may be considered areflection of individual consumer choices, the fact that thesepreferences are shaped by other more factors cannot be ruled out.According to Nye, the social history of advertising, decisions ofmanufacturers, tax incentives and the transport policy have greatlyshaped the choices that are on the roads currently.


Nye,J.S. (2011). Thefuture of power. New York. Public Affairs