Joseph Nye's "The Future of Power"

The Future of Power

Joseph Nye
Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor


Power, so the saying goes, is the ability to get other people, to do things they don’t want to. In the era of Kennedy and Khrushchev, it was measured in terms of nuclear missiles, industrial capacity, and tanks lined up ready to cross the plains of Eastern Europe. But the global information age is quickly rendering these traditional markers of potency obsolete and remapping long-established power relationships. In THE FUTURE OF POWER, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, delivers a new power narrative for the twenty-first century.

The rise of China, India, Brazil and other emerging countries has transformed the geopolitical landscape. But Nye argues that the story of American decline is simplistic and inaccurate; he counters that “the problem of American power is what to do in light of the realization that even the largest country cannot achieve the outcomes it wants without the help of others.” Rather than a post-American future, the U.S. faces the rise of the rest. Careful, considered use of smart power in foreign policy will keep it central in a world where networks and relationships are central to governance.

Notable Quotes

“Joseph Nye has crystallized decades of disciplined, pragmatic, and influential thinking about what power is and how it should be used. With his trademark combination of lucidity and persuasiveness, Nye has provided an antidote to apprehensions about newly powerful nations and fears about American decline.”
—Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution

“Illuminating analysis of the mechanisms of power shaping global politics…. Nye Jr.’s latest book steers the traditional debate over power politics into a new direction…. The author’s sober, rigorous analysis anchors a debate that seems to be squirming from the grip of most media. A great reminder that fear and hate are not the only tools used to sell books these days—a substantial work that should be read by anyone with an interest in how politics works.”
— Kirkus

“If you are searching for a brilliant and original analysis of cyberpower, read chapter 5 of Joseph S. Nye’s The Future of Power. If you are looking for the best available comprehensive analysis of power in world politics, read the whole book. ”
—Robert O. Keohane, Professor of Public and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

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