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Interview: Dr. Joseph Nye, Jr.

January 23, 2012

Quentin Cantu in Diplomatic Courier:

Joseph Nye, Jr. is one of the most influential international relations scholars today, and has been contributing to the field for decades. Dr. Nye laid the foundations for some of the most fundamental concepts in the study of international relations, including neoliberalism, soft power, and smart power.

He has been selected as the most significant scholar of his field multiple times by various surveys and has published countless books that are essential reading for any student of foreign policy, including Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics and most recently, The Future of Power. Indeed, Dr. Nye embodies the kind of intellectual that sees the world outside of Ivory Tower boardrooms, as he has served in senior governmental positions throughout his career.

These positions include the Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology from 1977 to 1979, as well as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the Clinton Administration. Dr. Nye is currently the University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University. The Diplomatic Courier got a chance to catch up with Dr. Nye to discuss his most recent book, his thoughts on the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, and the current ills facing America.

Diplomatic Courier: Secretary Clinton recently applied your term “smart power” to explain the administration’s strategy towards applying pressure on the Syrian government. Would you say that this strategy embodies the idea of smart power?

Joseph Nye: Smart power is the combination of hard and soft power to create optimal strategies in particular contexts. In the context of Syria, it makes sense to use the hard power of targeted sanctions, but not a no fly zone such as was used in the very different context of Libya.  [More]

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