In The Future of Power by Joseph S. Nye he
states that “There is no contradiction between realism and soft power. Soft
power is not a form of idealism or liberalism. It is simply a form of power,
one way of getting desired outcomes.” 1 The
best way to use soft power would be to attract or persuade other states by
changing their preferences, and sometimes their cultural values. Nye also
defines soft power, “as the ability to get others to want what you want.”2
However, Nye elaborates that soft power has, “the ability to attract, and
attraction often leads to acquiescence.”3
The definition of the word acquiescence means either
accept, comply, submit tacitly, even passively. Therefore, “accept” can be
included in the definition. However, the problem with the word “accept” in the
sense that nothing can be done to change an disagreeable fact and so the
state(s) must accept it or they will have to accept the said fact reluctantly.
Thus, the statement soft power has the capability to get other state(s) to
want, or accept, what the initial state wants can be a beneficial explanation
of soft power.
also states that, “soft power is a descriptive, rather than a normative,
concept. Like any form of power, it can be wielded for good or bad purposes.”4 Soft
power in relations to it being defined as “accepting what the other state wants
them to accept” could be explained with the reign of authoritarian leaders, like
Hitler. “The 1930s, for example,
witnessed intensive cultural exchanges between fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
Although these efforts were shaped by the ideology of their respective regimes,
they also built on pre-fascist traditions of cultural diplomacy.”5
Along with Hitler’s hostile and his imperialist foreign policies, Mussolini of
Italy and other totalitarian state(s) like Stalin of USSR not only used
culture, but also science and arts to achieve their diplomatic goals.
has been a long debate between International Relations theorists about whether
economic power is more fundamental than military power and vice versa. Realists
believe that military power must come first for economic growth, Liberals argue
that military power help establish institutions, and according to Nye, “Marxist
tradition casts economics as the underlying structure of power and political
institutions as a parasitic superstructure.”6
believed that a thriving, growing interdependence would make the start of any
war obsolete. However, the Realists pointed out that regardless of an
interdependent economy does not mean that war can be prevented. Britain and
Germany were partners in trading but that did not stop a war from happening
economic power still plays an enormous role in world politics. It can produce not
only soft but as well as hard power behavior. Also, a successful economy can produce
hard power resources, and even soft power attraction.
Joseph S. Nye The Future of Power (New York:
PublicAffairs), 2011 p. 82.
2 Vuving, A.L. (2009). How Soft Power Works. “Paper
presented at the panel “Soft Power and Smart Power,” American Political Science
Association annual meeting, Toronto, September 3, 2009,” p. 5-6.
3 Joseph S. Nye, The Paradox of
American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 9.
4 Nye, The Future of Power, 81.
5 David Brydan Postdoctoral
Researcher, Birkbeck University of London. “Hard right, soft power: fascist
regimes and the battle for hearts and minds.” The Conversation. September 29,
2016, Accessed January 30, 2018
Nye, The Future of Power, 51.
Nye, The Future of Power, 51.