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Joseph S. Nye was born in 1937. Nye is the foremost liberal figure concerning liberal policy. Nye is the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane, of the international relations theory of neoliberalism developed in their 1977 book Power and Interdependence. Together with Keohane, he developed the concepts of asymmetrical and complex interdependence. They also explored transnational relations and world politics in an edited volume in the 1970s. More recently, he pioneered the theory of Soft power. Unlike Hard Power, Soft Power is persuasive as opposed to commanding. I'd also like to add that hedge is nearly synonymous with soft power, and policy debates (on the collegic level) often debate Nye's theory, i.e., whether it's bad or good for America.

In 2005, Nye was voted one of the ten most influential scholars of international relations in the USA. Nye won the Woodrow Wilson Prize by Princeton University and the Humphrey Prize by the American Political Science Association. Nye has served as Deputy to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In recognition of his service, he received the highest Department of State commendation, the Distinguished Honor Award. In 1993 and 1994, he was chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates intelligence estimates for the President. He was awarded the Intelligence Community’s Distinguished Service Medal. These awards all come from Nye’s innate ability to create cooperation and interdependence, and he is a preeminent scholar on international relations.

Nye is currently University Distinguished Service Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and previously served as dean there, and obtained his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. (Wiki) Nye is currently working on the Visions of Governance in the 21st Century Project. (Harvard) Henry A. Kissinger called Nye’s book a timely warning, and essential by George Soros for those going into economics and business. Madeleine Albright calls Nye’s work a good US framework for finding out the US’s role in the 21st century.

The Paradox of American Power: Why America Can’t Go It Alone

In this book he analyzes multilateralism, soft power, and interdependence.

More specifically he analyzes how the inward-looking, i.e., domestic policies, led to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which he labels a wakeup call. As early as 1987 he called for a change of focus to the interdependence of nations. In a way Nye predicted the terrorist attacks...

On another note, he talks about a third industrial revolution, which takes away power from government gives it to others, due to technological advances. The non-government entities, ie corporations, now have power.

Nye raises the question of how to combine the power of America with our values of America (Principles). Troop removal won’t make everyone like us, we’ll still be vulnerable, yet people are mad that we have troops in foreign territory. In any end, Nye argues we should not waste our soft power through ignorance.

In Chap 2 – he says we must take soft power into account or we will lose our top position. Non-state actors will gain power from the information age.

In Chap 3 – he talks about globalization – a world wide networks of interdependence. The spread of west nile virus, bird flue, and email virus, are examples of how long things used to take to travel but how quickly they do now. Some argue that Globalization can also be called Americanization – Nye thwarts this belief, while Americans are promoters of globalization, it's not just the dominance of the west over the rest: others are globalizing too. The spread of religions, which most of which are from the East for one, and video games from Japan for two.

Boundaries are not irrelevant. Toronto trades 10 more times with Vancouver than with Seattle even though there are no tariffs and same distance. (Boundaries still exist). In short, globalization is the result of technologies and government international policies, but we can not control it, we would still be left with the militarily affects of globalization.

Another straw man argument is that the US is the hub of a wheel, all other countries are spokes, this form of thinking will not work for the US. While the US may have more freedom than small states, we are not exempt from the effects. The Asian market just based off population will attract more investment and entrepreneurs. To keep gaining from globalization, don’t rely upon unilateralism.

In Chap 4 – Ancient Rome / America comparison
It wasn’t the barbarians out in Ghaul (Great Britain) that collapsed Rome. It was from the inside, corruption, government, etc. Instead of the barbarians we have the terrorists. We may fall into the same situation through immigration, moral/culturally decay, economy, and educational problems. If we focused just on domestic issues it hurts our Hard Power, then 9/11 happened which weakened us. A decline In morals would results in a lowering of Soft Power. Nye points out that immigration has a contradiction to the melting pot metaphor, we don’t want any more immigrants… because of effect on tax payers and wages. Our culture can not accommodate a large flux of immigrants coming in. When our soft and hard power erode, we lose our confidence.

Nye's assessment of the Constitution was that it was a mistrust document, that didn’t want to give power solely to government or to the people.

    Stats:
  • 80% of America believes we have the best place in the world to live
  • 90% believe we have the best place for government in the world, ie democratic. Globalization has spurred American activity.
  • Personal savings rates have dropped by 10% since the 70’s.
  • Our primary and secondary education, we lag far behind especially in math and science, however, our private education or higher education is way on top.
    • We constantly have Americans winning Nobel peace prizes etc.

The main problem that faces us is indifference, we don’t care what happens to the rest of the world.

In Chap 5 - Nye redefines national interests. We can not just isolate ourselves. Nye says its not realistic on a global scale, we've gone too far, no reason to back out now. 73% of America believe we are not just citizens of the US but citizens of the world. 49% of America wants the world to share our human rights. Policy base interests should come from US interests then morals. Power > principle. The myth of super power doing anything it wants, must take into account new actors – aids, terrorism, China, EU. Soft power is source of our morals. We need a hard power to back it up. Britain was so successful because they maintained the (Balance of Powers) BOP in Europe.

Unilateralism versus Multilateralism.
We as Americans must choose what we think we want to be.

    7 tests
  • 1. Vital survival interest do not rule out Unilateralism, but go to Multi.
  • 2. Cautious Multi arrangements that may disturb peace. States with limited interests do not suffer consequences. Treaty that bans land mines, wouldn’t work for us to prevent North Korea tanks going into South Korea.
  • 3. Uni tactics lead others to compromises to promote multi tactics, free trade, economy, money. Uni needs to promote public good.
  • 4. Multi inaction is bad, UN. Freedom of press and freedom of market hindered by UN.
  • 5. Multi best for global scale issues, global warming, 1/3 emissions.
  • 6. Multi should be used for sharing commitments and benefits, reduces collateral of political costs on US soft power.
  • 7. In choosing, decide based upon effects on soft power. Excessive unilateralism creates arrogance, collapse soft power.

The EU could dominate if all those nations came together. US need to maintain hard power and understand soft power to combine both for national and global interests.

Nye’s book is a critique against unilateralism, yet sometimes it is required for anyone who does anything in international relations. No way the France, Russia, and Germany trio would have supported the over throw of Saddam Hussein even with a great use of soft power.


On a personal level I emailed the guy and he totally replied. He's a busy professor and brilliant intellectual, but he's enough of a down to earth type of guy to talk to the aspiring youngings like me ;)

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