Nye terms other forms of meaningful strength, "soft" power. Some of these are use of NGOs [non-governmental organisations], health care and education support, and information distribution. He takes seriously the growth of the Internet as a major force in imparting and applying soft power ideas. It's not a simplistic "pen mightier than the sword" proposal, but stops little short of that cliche. In Nye's view, "soft power" is an attractor - it helps people feel comfortable and allows viewpoints to relax and reduces confrontation. The best foreign policy is to encourage people to want to do what you want them to do. Soft power can accomplish this end without alienating others nor eroding your own position, he explains.
Nye's thesis is well thought out and ably presented. It's not a sermon about what is wrong with present or past US administrations. In fact, it's a book that could be read profitably by any number and styles of government. Every nation has some form of foreign policy, quite apart from whatever military or economic power it maintains. Helping others to agree on what is mutually beneficial is the ultimate zero-sum game. Getting the negotiators to achieve that end means applying the process Nye outlines here. That his proposals have been ignored by the current US administration doesn't invalidate this book. Indeed, it merely shows how more people should be reading this and urging their governments to give it heed. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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