Soft Power Without Hard Power Is No Power.

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Soft power without hard power is no power. In the early 1990s, Joseph Nye’s book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature Of American Power ignited a huge discussion among society of the need to transition from America’s traditional use of hard power to something more benign which he termed soft power. Before looking at the two branches of power, we first define power as the ability to do something or act in a certain way. As Nye had pointed out, nations can wield power in two forms, soft and hard power. Soft power, as coined by Nye (1990) is defined as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than through coercion.” In contrast, hard power is seen as the use of military might or economic sanctions to coerce others into…show more content…
Even Nye, who so fervently espouses the use of soft power, admits to it that soft power functions to influence the ‘environment for policy’ and not the policy itself (2004a). To extend soft power beyond the realm of influence is dependent on some form of hard power to lend it credibility (Fan 2007). To exercise soft power, one must first be able have something the other party ones, be it the recipe to economic success or some form of military protection (Cooper 2004). To put it simply, soft power without hard power is ineffectual. Given how Nye defines the two forms of power, it is hard to see the two as a continuation of the other. One lies in attracting others while the other uses coercion. The two approaches simply seem at odd with each other. However as Bially Mattern maintains that “soft power should be not be understood in juxtaposition to hard power but as a continuation of it by different means.” (2005, 583). In essence, she believes that soft power is nothing more than the softer face of hard power. Bially Mattern believes soft power uses something she terms ‘representational force’ (2005, 602). Representational force works by employing credible threats of harm to its victims, which unlike coercion, are directed at their subjectivity as compared to physically (Bially Mattern 2005). This could have been clearly seen following the 9/11 terror attacks as the Bush administration issued a ‘war on terrorism’. Underlying the
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