An Analysis of Joseph Nye’s Use of “Soft Power” and its Relationship with Morality in International Relations

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An Analysis of Joseph Nye’s Use of “Soft Power” and its Relationship with Morality in International Relations Recently, the United States has lost a great deal of power in the international arena because of its invasion of Iraq and torture of prisoners of war. The United States holds an incredible edge in military capabilities over any other nation and the US benefits from the largest economy in the world. In a world where there is one single superpower, why is that superpower unable to force-feed policy through coercion or payoff? Theoretically, the US ought to be able to rule the world with a double-edged sword of military muscle and economic supremacy. These tangible aspects of power should be all that US needs to be the…show more content…
Joseph Nye offers an alternative theory for the construct of State power. He created a system in which State power is broken into two parts; “hard power” and “soft power.” “Hard power” consists of the traditional, tangible aspects of power namely, military and economic power. “Soft power” is the key distinguishing dynamic of Nye’s work from other theories. “Soft power” consists of all other facets of power, such as ideology, foreign policy, culture, stability, prosperity, and membership in international organizations (Bound to Lead 130 and Paradox xi, 8). The modern world is becoming more interconnected and interdependent with one another, hence depending less on “sticks and carrots” and more on “soft power.” The missing link within perceived State power is the role morality plays in actual power. This study will show that “soft power” is implicitly, and at rare times explicitly, founded in moral values. The definition of morality or what constitutes proper morals is a difficult task and may be explained differently 100 times if one were to ask 100 people. Generally speaking, being moral is conforming to the standards of good or right. This vague definition is open for many interpretations. As mentioned, morality is not recognized internationally or is scrutinized as a weakness by the realist community, at least not openly so. Morality has played a role in international affairs and war for centuries.

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