Soft Power: Why the Changing World Needs a 'Softer Touch'

Essay by beeper20057University, Bachelor'sA+, July 2004

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Introduction: Why the Changing World Needs a 'Softer Touch'?"

Globalization, "the child of both technology and policy," (91) has dramatically altered the power dynamics in the international arena. The current technology revolution has catalyzed the flow of information and innovations weaving the global community into a tight network. Consequently, Joseph Nye asserts that power distribution has become more complex, and can be viewed as a three-dimensional chess game. There are three boards: the top unipolar military board, the middle multipolar economic board, and the bottom transnational relations board. The top board is dominated by the U.S.; the middle board is shared by the U.S., Europe, and Japan, who accounts for two-thirds of the world product; and, the bottom board has a divided power structure. (). The U.S., undoubtedly, is still the world's leading power, but "it is hardly a hegemon today. It does have a predominant voice...[but] not necessarily dominance or control" (16).

The changing power structure has given way to different sources of influence beyond US hegemony.

The rising importance of international organizations and policy speaks loudly of the current U.S. position in the international arena. Due to the divided power structure, state credibility is a key component in legitimizing foreign policy. As Nye points out, "credibility is the crucial resource and an important source of soft power. Reputation becomes even more important than in the past, and political struggles occur over the creation and destruction of credibility" (67). With the flood of free information in the information age, credibility becomes a strong determinant in legitimacy. Soft power, or "getting others to want what you want... the ability to entice and attract," needs to be more widely embraced by states but more importantly by international organizations. Incorporating soft power into the political playing field is not only conducive, but...