between force and power has been to Americas rise as a durable and balanced

Between force and power has been to americas rise as

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between “force” and “power” has been to America’s rise as a durable and balanced global power, not merely a hegemon. It is important for us to appreciate this distinction all the more as we rethink America’s legitimate and possible roles as the leading power in the future. Finally, I will suggest what an American grand strategy informed by a sense of tragedy—as opposed to a tragic grand strategy—might look like. Power and Force Newton teaches us as much about the tragedy of power as Sophocles power with the following equation: Newton could not account for power without force, but he did not consider the two to be identical. In addition to force, one must account for both time and displacement, the imaginary straight path from the one expresses in the “displacement vector.” All these variables stand in 2 This is the founda- tion for Joseph Nye’s dissection of hard and soft power. 3 Where power was once based on geography, population, and raw materials, today the basis lies increasingly on technology, education, and economic growth. Hard power, which physically compels or directs other states to act in a manner consistent with the goals of the state, typically appears in the form of incentives or threats to alter what another state does. 4 This hard power assumes various forms: the size and capacity of the economic United States has used these forms of hard power to achieve its goals since its birth, but just as important has been soft power. Soft power, instead of inducement or coercion, co-opts and attracts; it shapes and changes what other states want. 5 Quite simply, soft power is getting and the means of soft power are less tangible but no less potent: values, culture, ideology, and institutions. The United States has seen many of its policy objectives achieved in part due to its soft power. American ideals stood in stark contrast to those of Soviet communism and acted as a beacon for citizens trapped behind the Iron Curtain. In considering hard and soft power, where does the discussion of force begin? 2 Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 1-2. 3 Joseph Nye, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 1990), 25-26. 4 Ibid., 31, 267. 5 Ibid., 267.
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A MERICAN P OWER IN T RANSITION Wilson 17 Force, of which military power is only one element, is the most blatant display of power. 6 Power and force have a unique relationship and actions. While military force is an essential element of American national power, it is neither the only essential element nor is it a suf- state’s prestige and capacity to cause or prevent change, and it requires legitimacy, which it derives from those who may be subject to it. True power is self-legitimizing, purposeful, and strategic in securing national interests. As such, power grows when others recognize the capacity, latent or otherwise, a state possesses. Force, on the other hand, consists of the tools that a state employs as an extension of its power, and when
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