Press Release


January 31, 2011

Power, so the saying goes, is the ability to get other people to do things they don't want to.  In the era of Kennedy and Khrushchev, it was measured in terms of nuclear missiles, industrial capacity, and tanks lined up ready to cross the plains of Eastern Europe. But the global information age is quickly rendering these traditional markers of potency obsolete and remapping long-established power relationships.  In THE FUTURE OF POWER, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, delivers a new power narrative for the twenty-first century. The release date for THE FUTURE OF POWER, published by PublicAffairs, is February 1, 2011.

The rise of China, India, Brazil, and other emerging countries has transformed the geopolitical landscape. But Nye argues that the story of American decline is simplistic and inaccurate; he counters that "the problem of American power is what to do in light of the realization that even the largest country cannot achieve the outcomes it wants without the help of others." Rather than a post-American future, the U.S. faces the rise of the rest. Careful, considered use of smart power in foreign policy will keep it central in a world where networks and relationships are central to governance.

Power has also adapted to the digital age and smart power strategies must be developed that include more than a country's military and economic strength. Information once reserved for the government is now available for mass consumption. The Internet has literally put power at the fingertips of individuals and private organizations that gives them a direct role in world politics—WikiLeaks reveals state secrets and terrorists can launch anonymous cyberattacks against governments. It may be that the group with the best story, rather than the most might, now wins.

If the U.S. seems less powerful than it used to be, that may be because all states are less powerful than they were, relative to the power of individuals and non-state groups. China's economy is predicted to eclipse the United States' in 2027, but Nye argues that its wealth will lag behind. China also trails the U.S. in other power resources, military and otherwise, and is especially vulnerable to social challenges as it develops, including the delayed effects of the one-child policy, an uprooted working class, an expanding urban middle class, regional inequality, and rural poverty. In per capita income, China will not surpass the U.S. for decades.

In THE FUTURE OF POWER, Nye offers a rigorous analysis of the international fault lines of the twenty-first century—like nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, the return of Asia—and shows how U.S. power and influence can best be deployed to resolve them. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright praises his contribution: "Joseph Nye is America's foremost expert on the substance, diversity, uses and abuses of power. He writes with insights that a president or secretary of state would find valuable, and makes foreign policy less foreign for every reader. If your goal is to understand world affairs in the twenty-first century, there could be no better guide than The Future of Power."

Joseph S. Nye, Jr.  is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 1977 to 1979, he served as deputy undersecretary of state for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 1993–1994, he was chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and in 1994 and 1995, he served as assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs. In all three agencies, he received distinguished service awards. He also served as U.S. representative to the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Committee on Disarmament Matters, 1989–1993.

Joe Nye is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the British Academy. He is an honorary fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and a Theodore Roosevelt Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He is a recipient of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award, the Charles Merriam Award from the American Political Science Association, and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Studies Association, as well as France's Palmes Academiques. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He has taught as a visiting professor in Geneva, Ottawa, London, and Oxford and conducted research in Europe, East Africa, and Central America.


"Joseph Nye has crystallized decades of disciplined, pragmatic, and influential thinking about what power is and how it should be used.  With his trademark combination of lucidity and persuasiveness, Nye has provided an antidote to apprehensions about newly powerful nations and fears about American decline."  —Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution

"Illuminating analysis of the mechanisms of power shaping global politics.... Nye Jr.'s latest book steers the traditional debate over power politics into a new direction.... The author's sober, rigorous analysis anchors a debate that seems to be squirming from the grip of most media. A great reminder that fear and hate are not the only tools used to sell books these days-a substantial work that should be read by anyone with an interest in how politics works."  —Kirkus

"If you are searching for a brilliant and original analysis of cyberpower, read chapter 5 of Joseph S. Nye's The Future of Power.  If you are looking for the best available comprehensive analysis of power in world politics, read the whole book."   —Robert O. Keohane, Professor of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"In this magisterial book Joseph Nye offers a highly readable synthesis of more than two decades of conceptually innovative scholarship.  He provides an incisive probing of different types of power, analyzes transitions between states that rise and fall, and explores the diffusion of power away from state- to non-state actors. Nye's liberal-realist strategy is persuasive: America can stem political decline and extend economic prosperity by adhering to a smart power strategy that refuses to seek primacy and prefers to be aligned with other nations. This book should become required reading for anybody who is interested in international affairs."   —Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

"This brilliant book is the culmination of Joe Nye's two decades of analysis of the nature of power in the world today. Power once came from controlling the sea lanes. In the future, Nye explains, it will come from the ability to navigate the information lanes of cyberspace and control the narrative that influences people. Sweeping in its themes but specific in its examples, this book is exciting to read and fascinating to contemplate."  —Walter Isaacson, President of the Aspen Institute


For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Joseph S. Nye: THE FUTURE OF POWER. Press Release, Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, January 31, 2011.