By Joseph S. Nye Jr.
The writer is dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.”
After the war in Iraq, I spoke about soft power to a conference co-sponsored by the Army. One of the speakers was Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. When someone in the audience asked Rumsfeld for his opinion on soft power, he replied, “I don’t know what it means.” That is part of our problem. Some of our leaders don’t understand the importance of soft power in our post-Sept. 11 world.
Soft power is the ability to get what we want by attracting others rather than by threatening or paying them.It is based on our culture, our political ideals and our policies.
I fail to see how this “soft power” is going to work for us in the Muslim world. It may have escaped the notice of Mr. Nye, but we are being attacked by Islamic Extremists. The things that they find most offensive are our culture, our political ideals and our policies.
How is trumpeting those through the Middle East, no matter how much money we spend, going to help up with the Islamists?
Also, it may have escaped Mr. Nye’s notice, but Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense. His entire function is “hard power” and the use of it.
I will not comment on Mr. Nye’s affiliation with the Kennedy School of Government other than to note that he shares this affiliation with Bush critic Dick Clarke and Kerry campaign adviser Rand Beers.