Critical Analysis on “Soft Power and [Global] Politics” IV

[Continued from III]

Nye Never Admit of America’s “Imperial Ambition” 

America’s top military strategist Nye doesn’t necessarily hide what his nation intends to do with his new strategic military concept as his following statement plainly tells, “Power today lies not only in the might of one’s sword but in the appeal of one’s ideas.”

In this statement, the first sentence (“Power … lies … in the might of one’s sword) is doubtlessly his key strategic point which agues America’s awesome military might assures its evermore growing “imperial ambitions.”[46]

The second part talks about tactical methodologies in order to alter other’s behaviors, so that America could continue to carry out its key strategic goals. Without changing a bit fundamental natures of its hegemonic military (hard) power structure at all, he talks about how America’s tactical matters would work better or successful only! 

However, Nye, unlike neo-con strategists, seems avoid to be directly associated with “imperial ambition” which is now a official American policy, as engrained in Bush administration’s 2002 “National Security Strategy” (NSS) document.

Chomsky summarizes the core contents of that Document as in the following: “Then in September 2002, the most powerful state in history announced a new National Security Strategy asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently. Any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the United States reigns supreme.”[47]

However, Nye instead publicly criticizes his neo-con colleagues’ NSS-type of aggressiveness, arrogance, and Bush-like manners in their international relations. In this very regard, many can argue, Nye seems far less honest but more dangerous than his neo-con strategists. It is simply because the author of “soft power” concept could be more confusing thereby deceptive than neo-cons or Bush-type of people to deal with.[48]

Again, as repeatedly argued before, Nye, too, like most America’s mainstream media, columnists, pundits, scholars, experts, Congressional members and Government officials, talks about tactical matters (successes, methods, skills, technicalities, and so on) Only! Here is an excellent paragraph from Chomsky again who plainly reveals what the real problems are in American’s way of thinking as Nye, Gates, Rumsfeld, Chaney, Bush and the likes plainly, as if innocently, exert: 

There is virtually no criticism of the war in Iraq. Now, that will surprise journalists, I suppose. They think they’re being very critical, but they’re not. I mean, the kinds of criticism of the war in Iraq that are allowed in the doctrinal system, media and so on, are the kind of criticisms you heard about, say, in the German general staff after Stalingrad: it’s not working; it’s costing too much; we made a mistake, we should get a different general; something like that.

In fact, it’s about at the level of a high school newspaper cheering the local football team. You don’t ask, “Should they win?” You ask, “How are we doing?” You know, “Did the coaches make a mistake? Should we try something else?” That’s called criticism… You know, the issue isn’t how they are going to win, it’s what are they doing there in the first place?[49] 

However, when lives of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly innocent civilians around the globe, particularly in third world contexts like Korea, Vietnam in the past, Afganistan, Iraq present, have been bombed, destroyed, maimed, or wounded, what on Earth Nye’s “soft power” language would mean to them at all?

Thus, no matter how “soft, attractive, and smart,” their tactical conceptualizations, characterizations or definitions of America’s hegemonic military power are, its real intentions cannot be completely hyped for a long time. Neither can it deceive forever world’s majority others!

Thus, I am sure it would not be a big mistake even if one had presumed Nye would have represented interests of America’s most established and traditionally privileged elites in the name of its “national interests,” but not necessarily that of the majority Americans who also often become victimized by their own government, specifically, by its elite “class-oriented policies.” 

Conclusively, Nye for sure seems to have never admitted America’s “imperial ambitions” in the past and present. He instead, through his soft power concept, seems to have tried to “soften” or “disarm” American enemies’ alertness, preparedness, and readiness (something probably much-needed for them) in order for them to successfully deal with America’s “imperial policies.”

In reality, however, Nye’s language of deception (now it’s quite sure!) seems to have penetrated not small number of world’s populations including people in public media, academia, and government policymakers around the globe including Chinese. If that’s the case of “undeniable reality,”[50] then the immediate future of this new 21st century also could be thrown into another unpredictable whirlwind, just like the immediate past century.

America is still invincibly present or omnipresent through its “soft power resources” such as “popular American culture” around the globe which can be also called Americanization of the world.[51] If this is the real case, then it seems definitely not the progress for the future humanity. Instead it’s going to be a “regress”! In near future, if it’s not going to be properly handled, then it could sooner or later become most likely a formidable challenge for the whole humanity.

If the majority population of the globe, particularly if media elites, scholars and experts might have been already attracted, induced thereby in a way fooled around, and, as a result, even could have been possibly deceived (or “hyped” as Nye speaks!) by America’s military strategies and tactics (or “row power politics”), then that’s going to be indeed a significant challenge for the future

 Today’s America, even under the first Black Presidency, however, seems no different from his White House predecessors. The work of President Obama, being assessed from his first 6-month period, seems to have already made a significant number of populations around the globe deeply concerned, disappointed and dismayed. He looks so far just like the past American presidents by continuing its centuries-old colonial foreign policies with its ongoing “imperial ambition,” even if he might have tried with relatively better approaches in his domestic policies than others.

In any case, however, it is indeed a great dismay to painfully realize even the first Black President who initially looked somewhat more “progressive” and “different from the White predecessors” seems so far apparently not much different from the past colonial history of America.

In some aspects, the Obama administration seems becoming more and more like his predecessor, George W. Bush, at least in his international relations which is very demoralizing! I wish this kind of grim assessments could be wrong, but unfortunately it seems this wish could be hardly realized within near future. 

Ten Summary Questions to further Argue Nye’s “Soft Power” Concept 

In order to encourage listeners and readers to fully engage in dialogue directly with the author of “Soft Power” concept, I am going to put the following summery questions forth for both Mr. Nye and the readers: 

1)    Isn’t this new American language intending to opportunely replace Cold War’s outdated and outspent ideology of “anti-communism” with a new ideology of “anti-terrorism” against newly created enemies so-called “Islamic terrorists, extremists, or radical fundamentalists,” however, while still keeping “communists” into the America’s expanded and revised enemy list”?;

2)    Isn’t this strategically “soft” and/or “smart” approach, as Nye characterizes, to attempt to defuse rapidly spreading angry anti-Americanism throughout the world including its European allies with its badly (or fatally?) damaged America’s global image with infamous Bush’s illegal, ill-willed, and imperial war against Iraq?;

3)    Isn’t Nye’s “soft” and/or “attractive” language another covert strategy in order not to further loose but instead to enhance its “preferred outcomes” (Nye’s language) even when America seems to have been gradually (sometimes rapidly!) loosing its traditional global influences?;

4)    Isn’t this language culturally deceptive to “soften” or, in fact, “disarm” alertness, preparedness, and readiness of America’s global competitors like China and Russia?

5)    Isn’t this military language intending to first demonize those so-called “rogue states” in particular (and also confuse the world in general) in order to disturb military readiness and socio-cultural-political alertness such as in those rogue states, particularly in this article, Iran, eventually to “achieve what America wants,” like the very successful case of America’s first part of the 2003 military invasion of Iraq until it rid of the Hussein regime?;

6)    Isn’t this language strategically producing a new set of enemies in Islamic world in addition to those still-remaining anti-imperialist nations in non-Western third world states such as DPRK, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, and so on?;

7)    Isn’t this new American strategy with the invention of a very deceptive language creating favorable debates among nations of foes and friends for America’s new soft approaches, without necessarily changing its fundamental imperial ambition, but simultaneously confusing the world in general, its foes in particular, thereby luring America’s major foes such as China and Russia into a new US-led vast political and military coalition in the name of fighting a new “common enemy,” so-called “global terrorism”?;

8)    Isn’t this confusing, divisive and deceptive concept between so-called “Soft Power” and “Hard Power” another “black-and-white” dualistic logic to camouflage traditional Western “divide and conquer strategy” in order to maintain American/Western dominance over the majority Others on the globe including China and Russia?;

9)    Isn’t this new American linguistic wordplay (言語遊戱) employing the “Soft and Hard Power” concept which means after all the first like a psychological warfare the latter a military might of colonial power?



[46] Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions, pp. 1-17

[47] Ibid., p. 36

[48] Ibid.

[49] Noam Chomsky, Interventions, City Lights Book: San Francisco, 2007, p. xxi.

[50] Whether Americanization of the world is an “undeniable reality” will be further discussed in the Appendix I & II at the end of this paper.

[51] One could argue Nye’s soft power language must have furthered the degrees of Americanization of the world.

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