The last decade has had policy makers, governments and the media see an increase in the emergence of powers in the global economy and governance. Countries such as China, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Japan, India and Germany have significant influence in political and economic matters, in world politics and their respective regions. These countries have labels such as middle powers, uncertain powers, regional powers and new titans. This is because the countries have significant influence in the world today and this has seen previously powerful countries such as U.S. and Britain evaluate their international relations. Gaining international power is fundamental to most countries because through power a country or state is can control capabilities and resources, attain security through an increase in a military capacity. In addition, increased power enables states increase their demographic and geographic size and political aspirations. An example where these countries have shown an increased ambition was the bid by Japan, Brazil, India and Germany asked for permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Furthermore, Brazil and India asked for leading roles in creating the G20. Although these countries were unsuccessful in their bids, superior states notice these ambitions. Powerful states are now shifting gear to adopt smart and soft power while making adjustments on hard power lines previously employed in international relations. Hard power is also essential when international relations and foreign policies. Most countries are merging hard power and soft power strategies to create smart power. Smart power entails the application of capacity building, diplomacy and persuasion to project influence and power in a cost efficient approach while at the same time preserving political and social legitimacy.
In a world of shifting global power, is it essential for states and leaders to draw the line and know when to employ hard power, soft power or smart power. This is because today, economic and political power derives its basis from information and information technologies. There is also the media and global commerce that has significant influence on power. For instance, there is an increase in global interdependence due to trans-border challenges such as terrorism, climate change, disease and crime, which all require cooperation and combination of skills to address. Currently, people have access to resources that allow global communication such as the internet and this has a significant effect on state power. The states’ ability to influence outcome lies in the hands of the people who interpret and perceive what is happening to them and their surroundings. This makes states carefully evaluate the use of hard power because of the symbolic and perceptions it may gain from the people. For instance, violent force can be translated otherwise an example being the unrest in the gulf countries such as Bahrain where protestors previously suppressed violently are now calling for reforms. This shows how people are using information to as a bargain to receive power and use emotions and values to service various cause (ZALMAN, 2012, P. 1)
Hard power is essential in maintaining a nation’s sovereignty and reducing trade barriers. It is also beneficial in international policies. Hard power involves persuasion, coercion and incentives. Coercion can be through military action against another country or by issuing threats. The threats of both military and economic force against a nation either can be explicitly or stated implicitly. A country can also enforce hard power by crippling the economy of another country, which heavily relies on economic sanctions, aid and bribes. The U.S government issued trade embargos to countries such as Iran, Cuba and Iraq at the end of the 20th century. The Iran sanctions were against the use of nuclear weapons and the alleged funding of militia groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The sanctions’ purpose was to cripple investments in Iranian oil fields and infrastructure and prevent Iran from participating in unfriendly activity. It can also be through diplomacy whose negotiations characterized with pressure and threats. The U.S heavily on hard power after and before the September 11 attacks (CAMPELL AND O’HANLON, 2006, P.134).
The U.S government relies on hard power against terrorism to provoke against additional terrorist attacks and as a way to deal with terrorism as it is a thorny problem. Some of the policies involve hard lines as not carrying out negotiations with terrorists. Some examples include the Afghanistan War, Iraq War and the war against Taliban. Hard power receives credit for Bin Laden’s demise and other conquers that the U.S government has hard with dictators in the Arab countries. This is because the attack against Osama was a combination of skill, precision, military intelligence and courage. In international politics, hard power is essential in the cementing the political power of a country. It enables a country to access resources and territories that would otherwise be impossible to grasp. The U.S government provides security in various parts of the world such as Asia and Europe, and this is beneficial since it facilitates opening up routes to allow of free market and free trade even during conflicts.
China also employs hard power although it is slowly implementing soft power. It is also trying to attain hard power globally through the development of the economy and modernization of its military unit. China is also trying to ensure that it implements soft power approaches to as not to appear dictatorial. This has seen significant change and progress through retention of hard power traditions and soft power policies that will change people perception of the country. The EU also fighting to become a hard power player in the global market to enable it improves trade and development. The U.S provides security to the since EU uses soft power policies (LI, 2009, P.22).
Hard power although influences compliance, it has its limitations on issues concerning credibility and legitimacy. A country has to analyze its international image to avoid dire consequences of using hard power policies. If credibility decreases, international cooperation and trust deteriorates and this makes it difficult for the affected country to meet its foreign objectives. An example is the use of hard power to remove Saddam from power and the Iraq crisis. The consequences of using hard power by the U.S are increase in anti-American popularity and cynicism with American, foreign policy. This affects the U.S’s capabilities to meet policy goals. Scholars advice on mixing hard power with diplomacy, which will in turn legitimize any approaches adopted (WILSON, 2008, P.56).
Joseph Nye developed soft power and is the ability to draw individuals without coercing, threatening or economic persuasion. Soft power is applicable today in international affairs, international institutions and in individual countries. Soft power uses diplomacy, individual opportunities, human rights and strategic communication. In his book, Nye argues that a country can meet its objectives in world politics when other countries admire its values; aspire for the same level of prosperity. A country can also influence other countries to emulate its policies although the resources to produce soft power are beyond government control. In addition, soft power aligns the environment for agendas and policies and it may take years to realize expected results. Policies, culture and political values significantly influence sot power and the approach its practice receives. Soft power uses the concept of attraction and seduction thereby changing and shaping the inclination of others. In the changing global political world, it is necessary for a country to adopt soft power. This is because of the high availability and accessibility to information and technology (NYE, 2004, P. 22).
The US has recently lost power in the global world because of its invasion in Afghanistan, Iraq and the torture of war prisoners. The US government is recognizes the limitations of hard power and is using soft power to influence the perception of other countries. This is because the use of power in Iraq, war against Taliban has led to the increase in anti-Americanism. America is effectively exploiting offensive and defensive soft power to push their agendas and policies internationally. The country employs defensive soft power to ensure that organizations, states and individuals maintain loyalty. In addition, defensive soft power offers potential in promoting and protecting American security interests. Offensive soft power’s objective is to change the preferences and decrease the hard and soft power capabilities of adversaries. It also increases the credibility and legitimacy of ideas, goals, people and policies.
Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda employ soft power through strategies such as taking over the service and security sectors. This is through offering education, health, social amenities and other services to the local population. The people receiving the aid seize to see the terrorist groups as a threat and end up protecting them. This limits America’s ability to influence such areas and eliminate the groups. Another way in which terrorist organizations effectively employ soft power is by setting up strategic communication against US interests. The organizations use modern technology and media to communicate messages, recruit members, intimidate adversaries and carry out disinformation campaigns.
China is also realizing the importance of soft power in persuading other nations by attracting them to their policies, identity, performance and culture. A country requires resources to adopt soft power, and China has numerous soft power resources such as art, food, medicine and architecture. China is also repeatedly defending the interests and views of developing countries. The country is also helping and supporting a majority of developing countries in growth projects. In addition, China conducts training programs for officials from different parts of the world, most come from Africa. Although the Chinese have soft power resources, the country can only realize the maximum potential of its soft power by combining with hard power resources. China has also made an effort in enhancing public diplomacy by attracting foreigners through hosting international games such as the Olympics in 2008. The CCTV and other broadcast channels also hire foreign news anchors. China’s international relations are improving through soft power since it managed to adopt mutually beneficial and peaceful relations with countries in the Southeast Asia, which previously had complicated relations (KURLANTZICK, 2007, P.89).
Soft power is not fully effective if used alone. It is essential for countries to utilize both soft and hard power to realize political dominance in the global political arena. A combination of hard power and soft power strategies create smart power. Soft power proves ineffective if used alone. Sometimes it shows that a country does not pose any threat and these results to other states ignoring policies and agendas set forth. Smart power is essential because it is cost effective and involves the use of diplomacy, capacity building and projection of power in ways that maintain social and political legitimacy. Currently, smart power creates the perception of being a source of success in global politics. Countries such as the U.S are striving to promulgate smart power. For instance, the secretary of state constantly uses smart power to describe foreign policies that utilize smart power resources such as culture, legal, political, military and diplomacy. It is also essential for states adopting smart power to comprehend how the tools effectively engage both hard and soft power resources (ZALMAN, 2012, P. 1)
The adaptation of smart power is due to the weaknesses presented from solely using hard power and soft power. In addition, long-term secular trends have also provoked a claim for fresh ways to exercise and conceive power. G-8 countries are embracing smart power and, as a result, shifting from industrial to postindustrial economies. In postindustrial economies, power rests a county’s ability to manipulate and increase knowledge and information. A country with innovations trumps one with armored divisions. It can easily attain both military and nonmilitary influence (NYE, 2011, P.108).
The importance of smart strategies is that they take into account the changing influence among traditional states, with the rise of Brazil, India, China and other countries. The powers of these nations also pose constraints on the actions of the G-8. This means that the G-8 should design foreign policies with sophistication and take into account the rising nations. Another reason it is necessary for countries to adopt smart power is that target populations are also becoming smarter. The population currently possesses higher education and media outlets are readily available in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The populations are affluent, sophisticated, knowledgeable about their own and other societies and are less influenced by exercise of both hard and soft power. They command to receive better treatment than in the past since they are assertive (NYE, 2011, P.120)
For states to enhance the effectiveness of soft and hard power individually and combined into smart power, they should redress several issues. One is better conceptualizations and definitions of the meaning of both hard and soft power. The second is better attention to the institutional veracities that underlie the interpretation of the meanings of the words. The third is a systematic approach to incorporate real-world political dynamics that involve shift to smart power and an aggressive way to tackle issues on power. The states should conceptualize a policy relevant framework that considers the regional and global context in which smart power will apply. They should also consider self-understanding of one’s capacities, goals. A country should understand its capacity, will and the resources available to realize the set objectives, to achieve results using smart power. This is because smart power entails knowing strengths and weaknesses of each instrument (ILGEN, 2006, P. 122).
In creating smart power, it is essential to have smart institutions to exercise power. In achieving smart power in America, any state should recognize the current institutions pose as an obstacle. This means reforming and recognizing institutional forms and relationships across existing agencies, bureaus, departments and offices. The crucial aspect is determining who will spearhead, organize and synchronize the elements of hard and soft power in the government. In America for instance, the National Security Council can provide a starting point. There is also a need for independent institutions to make smart power work.
America and other countries’ shift to smart power are timely with the evolution of cyber security. Adversaries such as terrorist are also becoming smart and are now focusing to cyber terrorism. Smart power is essential in forming both national and global security strategies. Cyber terrorism is becoming a significant threat in the 21st century due to the importance of information since it is a source of power. Application of smart strategies is crucial in achieving cyber security and eventually global power through possession of vital information to influence outcomes.
In implementing smart power, it is also beneficial to review both immediate and long-term results of smart power schemes. The metrics for evaluating smart power should focus on vulnerabilities, quantitative measures, opportunities and successes. In addition, smart power is only achievable through collaborations with other countries, alliances and partners. This is because global threats require global efforts. The EU, U.S government and other non-governmental organizations are working to achieve success in handling global threats.
List of References
CAMPELL, K., AND O’HANLON, M. (2006). Hard power: The new politics of national security. New
York Basic Books.
ILGEN, T. L. (2006). Hard power, soft power and the future of transatlantic relations.
Aldershot, Hampshire, England, Ashgate.
KURLANTZICK, J. (2007). Charm offensive: How China’s soft power is transforming the world.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
LI, M. (2009). Soft power: China's emerging strategy in international politics. Lanham,
NYE, J. S. (2004). Soft power: the means to success in world politics. New York, Public Affairs.
NYE, J. S. (2011). The future of power. New York, PublicAffairs.
WILSON, E. J III. (2008). Hard power, soft power, Smart power. America Academy of Political
and Social Science.
ZALMAN, A. (2012). How Power Really Works in the 21st Century: Beyond Soft, Hard & Smart
.The Globalist | The Narrative of the Privileged American Male by Terri Langston.
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