The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone

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9780195150889: The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone

What role should America play in the world? What key challenges face us in the century to come, and how should we define our national interests? These questions have been given electrifying new significance in the wake of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
Not since Rome has any nation had so much economic, cultural, and military power, but that power is still not enough to solve global problems like terrorism, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction without involving other nations. In The Paradox of American Power, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. focuses on the rise of these and other new challenges and explains clearly why America must adopt a more cooperative engagement with the rest of the world.
The threat of terrorism, Nye argues, is merely the most alarming example of why we must engage in constructive relations with other nations weak and strong. Now more than ever, as technology spreads and non-governmental organizations ranging from transnational corporations to terrorists increase their power, American leadership must reorient itself toward the global community. Further, for many key issues--from international financial stability to drug smuggling and global climate change to terrorism--military power alone cannot ensure success and at times may undermine rather than enhance our objectives. Nye argues convincingly that in the coming century the U.S. will rely less on our military might and more on the power that derives from the appeal of our culture, values and institutions, what he calls our "soft power." But this soft power cannot flourish in a climate in which the U.S. is viewed as selfish and motivated only by self-interest.
The Paradox of American Power contains the essential roadmap for maintaining America's power and reducing its vulnerability in the years to come. Sure to be controversial, it's a must read for anyone wishing to understand the complicated world in which we suddenly find ourselves.

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About the Author :


Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, was Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and an Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, he is the author several books, including Governance in a Globalizing World and Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power.

From Publishers Weekly :

"Unilateralism, arrogance, and parochialism" the U.S. must abandon these traits in a post-Sept. 11 world, says Nye, former assistant secretary of defense and now dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He explains eloquently the principles he believes should govern American foreign policy in the decades ahead. His starting point is the preponderance of American power in today's world. Nye distinguishes between hard power (military and economic strength) and soft power (openness, prosperity and similar values that persuade and attract rather than coerce others). Nye argues that a dominant state needs both kinds of power, and that the current information revolution and the related phenomenon of globalization call for the exercise of soft more than hard power. It is, Nye believes, dangerous for the U.S. systematically to opt out of treaties and conventions endorsed by the great majority of nations. The U.S. should participate in world debate on transnational issues such as global warming and nuclear defense, not simply declare American interests paramount to the exclusion of all other views. Nye quotes a summarizing insight from a French critic: "nothing in the world can be done without the United States, [A]nd... there is very little the United States can achieve alone." As the author points out, in the aftermath of September 11, the policy issues this book addresses are magnified rather than diminished in importance. This reasoned and timely essay on the uses of power makes a valuable contribution to American public discourse. (Mar.)Forecast: Blurbs by Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger highlight that this should be required reading for foreign policy wonks. Oxford is backing this with a $50,000 marketing budget and is counting on major media attention. Still, whether this finds a wider audience may depend on whether Americans' interest in the world at large survives six months after September 11.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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