Public Affairs Books,$29.99, 320 pages
There are no better examples of the shifting meaning of power than the recent regime changes in North Africa. It used to be that the force with the biggest guns won the war, but as events Tunisia and Egypt clearly demonstrate, the winner in the digital age can be the player with the best story. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former dean of the Kennedy School of Government, argues in his new book that although nations will remain dominant, they’ll just be the bigger players on a stage stuffed with all kinds of actors. “[W]orld politics,” he says, “will not be the sole province of governments.”
In order for nations to maintain their leadership positions, they’ll have to blend the hard power of coercion and money with the soft power of persuasion and attraction. Nye calls this “smart power,” and goes on to stress that only through accepting responsibility in the evolution of world order through mediation, the development of international rules and institutions, and the promotion of an open international economy of goods and services can nation states continue to influence. The Future of Power is a smart, accessible, and timely document and guide to the present and future of world affairs.
Reviewed by Heather Shaw