How do countries build their smart power?

Can we reach new standards for measuring power in the twenty-first century?! There are many challenges facing countries, which force them to search for new sources of power, and distinct ways to use them rationally.

Countries have relied to build their power on population, land, economy, army, weapons, strategic planning, and will. But events have proven that the state can possess all these resources, but it can collapse, as happened to the Soviet Union, which had more power than the United States of America.

The collapse of the Soviet Union exposed scientists to the need to search for new measures of power, and researchers addressed various aspects such as technology, human resources, infrastructure and ideas.

Nevertheless, there are many resources of power that need studies to clarify their role in increasing the state’s ability to continue, and its efficiency in changing reality.

The experience of North Korea can show us an important aspect of how one party can manipulate the fears of the other and weaken it. It is certain that North Korea’s strength cannot be compared to the strength of China or the United States of America, but it nonetheless succeeded in raising the fears of these two powers.

illusions of military power

In order to be able to develop the capabilities of the state and build its strength, we must free ourselves from focusing on military force, as it is just a means that the state can use in managing conflicts at the international level.

There are new questions that are beginning to be asked of countries, the most important of which are: What can military force do in the face of climate change, epidemics or economic collapse?

The focus on building military power and owning and accumulating modern weapons can lead to economic weakness and increased poverty as a result of increased spending.

There are new dimensions to the use of military force in the modern era that require thinking about the feasibility of using that force in the face of terrorism, which aims to push the strong to use their military power against themselves. How does that happen?

The weak side can drive the strong side into bankruptcy by draining them in small fights over a long period of time.

North Korea’s experience can show us an important aspect of how one party can manipulate the other’s fears and weaken it. It is certain that North Korea’s strength cannot be compared to the strength of China or the United States of America, but it nonetheless succeeded in raising the fears of these two powers.

In light of this, it becomes clear that it is difficult to identify the sources of power, and the impact of these sources in different situations.

Strength and change making

It has become difficult to reach a specific definition of power, despite the many attempts, the most important of which is that power is the ability to achieve change and influence others.

In light of this, the measurement of power depends on the factors that increase the influence and achieve the results desired by the state, and these factors are multiple, and their impact varies according to the context in which they are used.

So political scientist Peter Katzenstein differentiates between “the strength of civilizations” and “the strength in civilizations”. What does that mean? The strength of civilizations means the ability to build societies and knowledge systems. That is, the state can have a military force that it uses to kill and destroy, but does that state have the ability to persuade?

This question and the answer to it can be the key to understanding the role of the intrinsic power of civilizations, and their ability to influence beyond their military capabilities.

Joseph Nye provides an important example, which is that a dictator can kill an opponent, but he does not achieve what he wants, because this opponent turns into a martyr, and the cause adopted by the martyr becomes general and affects the masses, so the dictator does not achieve what he wants, but rather this may pose a danger to him, and he is fired Nye on it the unintended consequences of the use of force.

smart power concept

Therefore, the concept of smart power appeared to describe the possibilities of using the sources of power in a particular context, and how these sources can be coordinated in order to achieve the goals.

China possesses many sources of power, such as the army, weapons, the economy, and the population.. But to what extent is it able to build a strategy to use these resources to achieve its goals and influence the behavior of others?

Power does not achieve effect alone, so it is necessary to use hard and soft power efficiently to achieve goals in different contexts. In light of this, a new definition of power can be presented, which is to get people to do the work you want without the use of carrots and sticks.

The other side of power

There is an important aspect in setting the agenda, which is how it can affect the priorities of the masses and countries, and the issues they care about? In this context, the power of the media is used to identify issues. For example, emphasis is placed on imposing the veil on Afghan women, and presenting that issue as constituting persecution of women, while the rights of Muslim women in France to wear the veil are ignored.

This shows that another facet of power is influencing audience preferences, defining the issues they care about, and the ways in which those issues are presented. In the twenty-first century, the importance of media, information and knowledge power is increasing, and this power needs attractive ideas that are used to persuade others.

But who can possess this power and use it efficiently during a century of conflict with a deluge of content disseminated through the media and the Internet?

efficacy of states

In light of this, the state is no longer the only actor in this new century, and the hard power that the state owns and manages is no longer the means that can be used to achieve goals.

Communication strategies are also becoming more important than armies. Wars are not won by the use of weapons, but by winning minds and hearts, setting people’s priorities, and shaping public preferences.

Therefore, countries need to develop their smart power by building strategies for using information, knowledge and communication, and employing their culture and political values ​​to attract people.

Culture is an important source of strength, and there are global cultures that attract many people from different peoples and races that can play an active role during this century, and affect the building of alliances between countries.

Changing the balance of power

No matter how we disagree about the measures of power, we can agree that the coming years will witness a change in the balance of power, and this will open the way for non-Western countries to increase their power through the intelligent use of all sources of power, building alliances on cultural, religious and civilized foundations, and influencing public opinion in Other countries using their own principles and values.

There are also many indications that America’s power is declining, and that many peoples have lost their admiration for American culture, so America will lose control, even though it retains supremacy in the realm of hard power.

power curse

But could hard power be more of a curse than a benefit? This question was asked by Joseph Nye, and then he answered that the excessive use of military force is one of the most important causes of the deterioration of the United States, and its harm was greater than its benefit. For their use of hard power, and to spare peoples the “curse of power” that could lead to defeat and death.

Therefore, Joseph Nye sees that smart power does not mean doubling power, or maintaining control, but the use of the resources of power in successful strategies, and in a new context to achieve great goals, and not using force to destroy and annihilate.

But can hard power be used in war? Certainly, but the war must be just and legitimate and aims to liberate the land and people, so it should not be an aggression against peoples to impose control, as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Therefore, Joseph Nye defines smart power as the intelligent integration of diplomacy, defense and development. Therefore, America must abandon the goals of hegemony and control of countries, and realize that the global context is changing as the “post-hegemony” period has begun, in which countries must search for new ways to achieve cooperation in facing new challenges such as climate change.. But does America listens to the voices of its wise men and scholars?

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