On April 4, Monday afternoon, Joe Nye, Distinguished Service Professor of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Government, addressed foreign policy issues in depth during his hour long lecture entitled, “America, Europe, and the Future of Power in the 21st Century.” Participating as the tenth this speaker in Tech’s ongoing IMPACT Speaker Series, he also represented the second speech in a series of talks being held in collaboration with the European Union Center of Excellence at Georgia Tech (EUCE) on the topic of Transatlantic Leadership.
Currently teaching the policy courses at Harvard University, Dr. Nye is an expert on foreign affairs. Having been ranked as the sixth most influential scholar of the past 20 years and the single most influential scholar on the subject of American foreign policy, he has a long-standing political history of involving himself within the international community. Under the Clinton administration he served as both the chairman of the National Intelligence Council and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security, pioneering the political theory of soft power during his term in office.
Focusing on the diffusion of power across the regions of the Middle East, Asia and how Europe and America must adapt to this the situation, Nye began his speech by stating what he considered to be the foundation of modern political power today.
“I find that the definition of power in its simplest form is the ability to affect others to get the things you want. It’s pretty straightforward…Traditionally the most powerful country was considered the one with the biggest army, but idea is changing today,” Nye said.
He explained that the U.S. and much of Europe must maintain a delicate balance between hard and soft power, defining hard power as the ability of one nation to use forceful means of forcing a specific political agenda on another nation and soft power as the ability of a country to obtain political and economical interests through cooperation and attraction.
Nye also suggested a need for change in the current U.S. foreign policy.
“In modern politics it is whose story prevails rather than whose army occupies what country that determines the most successfully nation. American politicians still have the ‘lone-ranger’ mentality of power in which the good guy rides into town and takes care of the bad guys. America needs to focus more on soft power in order for us to keep up with the rest of the world.”
Third-year INTA major Drew Ringham agrees with Nye.
“It seems that the US is too busy focusing on militaristic ways of dealing with other countries when it should be taking the time to work with countries in a more positive and peaceful way,” Ringham said.
Nye also took the time to explain how the diffusion of power has not only been seen across nations, but also how technology has played a critical role in establishing decentralized forms of power placed back in the hands of the people. He cited the “Twitter Revolution” in the Middle East as his most recent example and illustrative example.
Dr. Nye concluded his address by taking the time to answer questions from the audience on the subject of his speech and the subject of the current political state in general.
Dr. Nye’s speech was the second speech in the Transatlantic Leadership series.