Joseph Nye: Soft Power and Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century

On 20 January 2010, the first anniversary of President Obamas inauguration, US political theorist Joseph Nye gave a lecture at Portcullis House, London, on his theory of soft power and its importance for today’s governments and global societies.



Biography ( WIKIPEDIA )

Joseph Samuel Nye, Jr. (born January 19, 1937) is an American political scientist and former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He currently holds the position of University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University[1] where he has been a member of the faculty since 1964. He is also the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane, of the international relations theory neoliberalism, developed in their 1977 book Power and Interdependence. Together with Keohane, he developed the concepts of asymmetrical and complex interdependence. They also explored transnational relations and world politics in an edited volume in the 1970s. More recently, he pioneered the theory of soft power. His notion of “smart power” became popular with the use of this phrase by members of the Clinton Administration, and more recently the Obama Administration.[2] He is a fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and The British Academy. Nye is also a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.[3]

The 2011 TRIP survey of over 1700 international relations scholars ranks Joe Nye as the sixth most influential scholar in the field of international relations in the past twenty years.[4]

In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers.[5] Magazine’s valued reporter Daniel Drezner wrote: “All roads to understanding American foreign policy run through Joe Nye.”[6]

Life and career


Nye attended Morristown Prep (now the Morristown-Beard School) in Morristown, New Jersey and graduated in 1954. He went on to Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and won the Myron T. Herrick Thesis Prize. During his time at Princeton, Nye was vice president of the Colonial Club, a columnist for The Daily Princetonian, and a member of the American Whig–Cliosophic Society‘s Debate Panel.[7] After studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University‘s Exeter College, he obtained his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University in 1964.


Nye originally joined the Harvard faculty in 1964, serving as Director of the Center for International Affairs and as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. From 1977-1979, Nye was Deputy to the Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

In 1993 and 1994 he was chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates intelligence estimates for the President. Nye also served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Clinton Administration, and was considered by many to be the preferred choice for National Security Advisor in the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. In 2005, Nye was voted one of the ten most influential scholars of international relations in the USA.[8]

He is the co-chair of the Center for a New American Security Cyber Security Project,[9] as well as the Aspen Strategy Group. He is on the International Editorial Board of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, the editorial board of Foreign Policy, the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Guiding Coalition of the Project on National Security Reform, the Advisory Board of Carolina for Kibera, and the Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has been awarded the Woodrow Wilson Prize by Princeton University and the Charles E. Merriman Prize by the American Political Science Association. In 2005 he was awarded the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College Dublin and has been awarded honorary degrees by a number of colleges.

Nye has published many works in recent years, the most recent being Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era which examines the relationship between presidencies and the rise of American power.[10] His earlier works include: The Future of Power (2011, ISBN 978-1-58648-891-8), Understanding International Conflicts, 7th ed (2009), The Powers to Lead (2008), The Power Game: A Washington Novel (2004), Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004), and The Paradox of American Power (2002). Nye coined the term soft power in the late 1980s and it first came into widespread usage following a piece he wrote in Foreign Policy in 1990. He is the chairman of the North American branch of the Trilateral Commission.[11] Nye has also consistently written for Project Syndicate since 2002[12]

Nye is currently (as of December 2012) a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor [13]


Nye and his wife, Molly Harding Nye, have three adult sons.[14]


  • Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (Princeton University Press, 2013)
  • The Future of Power (PublicAffairs, 2011)
  • The Powers to Lead (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • The Power Game: A Washington Novel (Public Affairs, 2004)
  • Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (PublicAffairs, 2004)
  • Power in the Global Information Age: From Realism to Globalization (Routledge, 2004)
  • The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go it Alone (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History, 7th ed. (Longman, 2008)
  • Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, (Basic Books, 1990)
  • Nuclear Ethics (The Free Press, 1986)
  • Hawks, Doves and Owls: An Agenda for Avoiding Nuclear War, co-authored with Graham Allison and Albert Carnesale (Norton, 1985)
  • Living with Nuclear Weapons. A Report by the Harvard Nuclear Study Group (Harvard University Press, 1983)
  • Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition, co-authored with Robert O. Keohane (Little Brown and Company, 1977; Longman, 2000)
  • Peace in Parts: Integration and Conflict in Regional Organization (Little Brown and Company, 1971)
  • Pan Africanism and East African Integration (Harvard University Press, 1965)


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