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Power in International Relations

[Pentagon - The US Department of Defense]


 - Power in International Relations

Power is defined as a specific set of attributes that people use in their interactions and social processes that determine the various identities and abilities of those who exercise power. 

Most actors in international relations have various definitions of power, such as the American political scientist Joseph Nye Jr. defined power as “the ability to influence the behaviors of others to obtain desired results”. Likewise, historical theorists conceptualize power as goals, influence, security, and capacity.


- Hard power, soft power and smart power

There are three main types of international power: hard, soft and smart.

  • Hard power is defined as a state's use of economic and military coercion to influence the interests or behavior of other states or political groups. This political power is considered aggressive because it is usually imposed by a stronger power on a smaller institution or government with immediate effect. Furthermore, it is often supported by superior forces with natural resources, economic advantages and even larger populations.
  • As opposed to coercion, soft power is a force that attracts and persuades others to change and influence the preferences of others and nations. This power uses negotiation and influence to attract others. Soft power is necessary to improve interpersonal relationships and build lifelong bonds between parties. Soft power is best used on complex issues to help achieve a state of mutual benefit without too much difficulty.
  • Intelligent power includes hard power and soft power. It involves the strategic use of diplomacy and persuasion. This genre projects power and influence in a very cost-effective way to legitimize political and social aspects.


- The Comprehensive National Strength

The comprehensive national strength of a country includes not only "hard power" expressed by economy, technology, and military strength, but also "soft power" expressed by culture, political values, and foreign policy. "Cultural soft power" is an important part of a country's soft power, which refers to the strong cohesion reflected by the advanced culture of a country, a nation or a region. 


 [More to come ...]


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