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SIDEBAR: What is hard and soft power?

Army News Service

Release Date: 9/29/2003

By Spc. Bill Putnam

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2003) -- The U.S. needs to develop a strategy to make soft and hard power compliment each other, Dr. Joseph Nye Sept. 25 said.

There's no doubt the U.S. is great at applying the hard power of the military, Nye said.

But leading by example, showing people we're in line with what they want and economic assistance -- the ultimate show of soft power -- will make applying U.S. power easier, said Nye, the dean of the Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University.

Nye and a few other luminaries in the Washington, D.C., foreign policy think tank spoke during the first day of the two-day Eisenhower Series Sept. 25 and 26.

For example, hard power can be used to kill Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, but soft power should be used to attract moderate Muslims.

Investing in soft power is a good way to beat bin Laden, Nye said.

AIDS research and, most importantly, economic assistance shows "people we're in line with what they want," Nye said.

"It's important to fight terror with two legs rather than one," he said.

Hard power and all that go with it -- what Nye called bribes and threat -- can only get a nation so far, he said.

Using dialogue to get people to accomplish your aims is a safer bet for long-term power, Nye explained.

A good way to do that would be to increase exchanges between westerners and Islam, said Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of the late president and chief executive officer of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Institute.

Soft power resides in three areas: cultural, political values and foreign policy, said Nye.

Exposing the 500,000 foreign students who attend universities every year in the U.S. to U.S. political values is also good because they generally become their country's elite, Nye explained.

But domestic political values can also undermine soft power overseas, Nye said. The racial policies of the 1950s are perfect example of that, he said.

The "democratization of technology" has led to the privatization of war, Nye said. Terrorism is not new but, the attacks on Sept. 11 demonstrate what Nye called a "dramatic escalation" of terror through technology.

Nye said high technology has indeed made the U.S. more efficient and complex and has also made it vulnerable.

That democratization of technology has also made Weapons of Mass Destruction smaller and cheaper.

While weapons are getting smaller, the internet has made global communications virtually free with instant messaging services, free e-mail and chat rooms, he said.

Terror groups depend on that widespread and dissemination of information, Nye said.

The communication revolution has increased the complexity and lethality of terrorists, he said.

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