What role should America play in the world? What key challenges face us in the century to come, and how should we define our national interests? These questions have been given electrifying new significance in the wake of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
Not since Rome has any nation had so much economic, cultural, and military power, but that power is still not enough to solve global problems like terrorism, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction without involving other nations. In The Paradox of American Power, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., focuses on the rise of these and other new challenges and explains clearly why America must adopt a more cooperative engagement with the rest of the world.
The threat of terrorism, Nye argues, is merely the most alarming example of why we must engage in constructive relations with other nations weak and strong. Now more than ever, as technology spreads and non-governmental organizations ranging from transnational corporations to terrorists increase their power, American leadership must reorient itself toward the global community. Further, for many key issues—from international financial stability to drug smuggling and global climate change to terrorism—military power alone cannot ensure success and at times may undermine rather than enhance our objectives. Nye argues convincingly that in the coming century the U.S. will rely less on our military might and more on the power that derives from the appeal of our culture, values and institutions, what he calls our "soft power." But this soft power cannot flourish in a climate in which the U.S. is viewed as selfish and motivated only by self-interest.
The Paradox of American Power contains the essential roadmap for maintaining America's power and reducing its vulnerability in the years to come. Sure to be controversial, it's a must read for anyone wishing to understand the complicated world in which we suddenly find ourselves.