One of these is power transition, largely from west to east. The other great power shift is from all states, east or west, to non-state and non-governmental actors.
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We call that the diffusion of power. So the five books are about power transition and power diffusion. Issues of transition are illustrated by Thucydides, going all the way back to that first chronicler of the rise and fall of powers and the Peloponnesian War.
Then the other two books relate more to the diffusion of power. Zakaria is one of the best American commentators on world politics and foreign policy. He has the unique perspective of having been born in India and then doing his graduate degree in the US. The US is not like Rome, which was an agrarian economy. What the US is facing is not absolute decline but relative decline, in that the gap between the US and other countries is diminishing with the rise of China, India, Brazil and others.
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That declined dramatically because of the industrial revolution in North America, Britain and Europe. I think Zakaria is quite accurate in his description of what is going on. But Zakaria sees it basically as a positive thing? You can have positive relations from economic progress and growth.
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So when Thucydides is trying to account for the Peloponnesian War, an extraordinary war in the fifth century BC in which the Greek city-state system tore itself apart, he says the basic cause of the war was the rise in power of Athens and the fear that created in Sparta.
He points out that when there is this kind of fear, and there is a belief that war is inevitable, it can itself become a cause of war. Some of the greatest wisdom on international politics and the rise and fall of power goes back to Thucydides in the fifth century BC.
Yes, Rivals. Emmott notes that as we look at the rise of China, and the question of whether China will present the kind of challenge to the US that Athens did to Sparta or Germany did to Britain in the 20th century, we have to ask whether fear of the rise of China in the US will create that kind of reaction in the 21st century.
He says that if you look more carefully, you see that Asia has its own internal balance of power. Asia is not just one country. For example, these countries want an American alliance or close relationship. If one took an analogy, Mexico might be looking for a Chinese alliance to balance American power in North America. That means the US does not have to be so fearful.
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But who in the US is actually afraid of China? Well, there is a growing concern about China in the US. In the last election campaign in , several hundred million dollars were spent on advertisements which dramatised the rise of China. It gave the image of twisting arms, using coercion to get people to do things.
This was a famous definition of power, developed by the Yale political scientist Robert Dahl in the s. Dahl basically set a trend of how people thought about power. Is there a situation in which this becomes a form of brainwashing, and how do we know? Is that her free will or not?
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So her preference is to wear it. But then you ask her where the preference came from. Hard power is the ability to use carrots and sticks, coercion and payments; soft power is using attraction and persuasion to do things. I often quote Eisenhower, who certainly knew about giving commands. To get people to do what you want because they want to do it for you is much more difficult.
Given the diffusion of power in global politics, leadership is going to involve soft power as well as hard power, getting people to develop networks and institutions to deal with problems. Hearts and minds? You use hard power to defeat the enemy but soft power to win the hearts of the civilian population. That means that killing a lot of civilians is a disastrous strategy. Not only ethically bad but counterproductive in terms of the goals of counterinsurgency.
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I have a chapter in my book on military power which goes into this in some detail. You can think of hard and soft power on the macro level of international politics, but also on the level of family or workplace relationships. Previous novel: Requiem. Next novel: Blaze of Glory. Previous Adventure: Thine Own Self. Next Adventure: Paradise. Next Adventure: Masks. This article is marked as lacking essential detail, and needs attention. Information regarding expansion requirements may be found on the article's talk page.
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