The Means To Success in World Politics

            Ever since the United States existed, in fact even before the country was formed, force has been used to remove barriers and challenges. America's history records one war after another, after another. Today, the situation does not appear much differently. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and others who agree with the present state of affairs assert that The United States is strong enough to do as it wishes with or without the world's approval and should simply accept that others will envy and resent it. The world's only superpower does not need permanent allies; the issues should determine the coalitions, not vice-versa (Nye, 2004). With this opinion firmly footed, it is not surprising that Rumsfeld does not agree with the "soft power” hypothesis of Joseph Nye former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government that states that America's approach for the 2000s should be "co-opting people rather than coercing them.".

             In his book Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Nye describes "soft power” as "the ability to get what you want from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals, and policies.” When America's policies are recognized as legitimate by other countries, soft power is enhanced. Historically, he recalls, America has had a great deal of soft power: President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms in Europe after WWII, Radio Free Europe, Chinese students creating a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square, and, most recently, liberated Afghans in 2001 asking for a copy of the Bill of Rights. Soft Power does not mean, Nye argues, what others have sarcastically noted since he first used the term: the influence of Coca-Cola, Hollywood, blue jeans and money (x-xi).

             The dictionary defines power as "the capacity to do things.” However, the application of power to get things done can range from "might is right” to Mahatma Ghandi non-violence.

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