Power and Foreign Policy


Power is hard to measure just like love as Nye states: “Like love, we experience power in our everyday life, and it has real effects despite our inability to measure it precisely.”(Pg. 1) It cannot be measured on a scale of one to ten or on a basis of this versus that. Power like most things is based on human relationships.


Nye states that there is hard power which is a push where the exercise of influence is through coercion, relying on tactics like a military force, payments, and economic sanctions. As well as soft power is a pull that uses attraction and persuasion to change minds and influence behavior. It sources culture, government, political values, and positive global engagement. The important thing is power as a process, power as outcomes, and power as resources.


There are three faces of power: The first face is power behavior and compelling people to act against, the second face is framing and agenda setting and the third face is the power to change initial preferences. Both second and third faces involve structural causes, institutions, and culture. There is also an opportunity to focus on agents who make decisions, albeit bound by structural pressures. Nye shows and uses examples to demonstrate how different scholars view things differently.


For example, Dwight Eisenhower’s ideology is people do what they want “not only because you tell them to do so, but because they  instinctively  want  to  do  it  for  you.”


In the end, Nye states there is no greater international political authority above states; they must rely on themselves to maintain their independence, and when all else fails, the use of force is the last resort.

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