HARD POWER, SOFT POWER, SMART POWER

January 3, 2012

It was in the last quarter of 2011 that I undertook my Jan Chetna Yatra. I discontinued for a while, therefore, blogging. In this first quarter of the year 2012, I am resuming my blogs. It would be in place to recall that my shifting from Rajasthan, where I spent my first post-partition decade, to Delhi took place after the Second General Election of 1957.

 

It was in this election that Shri Vajpayee had been first elected to the Lok Sabha.

 

Party General Secretary and our chief Party ideologue, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya wanted me to set up the party’s parliamentary office and assist the small group of MPs the party had.  Since then I have been closely associated with the party’s parliamentary wing.  The association continues till today.

 

Looking back at the year just ended I issued a statement complimenting the party’s new President Nitin Gadkari under whose leadership the party had become “considerably stronger and more vibrant.”

 

So far as the two Houses of Parliament are concerned, public opinion has been unanimous that both our party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have always made outstanding contributions to the deliberations of Parliament.  The Party is justifiably proud of them, who are Leaders of Opposition in the two Houses.

 

It is not only their individual performance in the House that evokes admiration, and raises the level of debate, but also their management of the parties which makes the BJP a really formidable opposition in Parliament.

 

Since Jana Sangh days, during the Session period, all party MPs from both Houses meet religiously every Tuesday, and discuss what has transpired in the earlier week, and what is likely to come up during the current week. BJP MPs tell me that Congress MPs privately envy how BJP members have easy access to their leaders and how at these weekly meetings, have no difficulty raising issues unhesitatingly.

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It was during my incarceration in the Bangalore Central Prison during the 1975-77 Emergency that I read Alvin Toffler’s FUTURE SHOCK, and became an admirer of the author. Later I read his THIRD WAVE and POWERSHIFT. Powershift is an engrossing book which focuses attention on three major sources of power: the army, wealth and knowledge and traces the history of how power has been shifting from one to the other, and how in the present era, knowledge societies have come to wield exceptional influence.

 

josephLast week a friend from New York presented me the latest book on the same subject by a scholar who has specialised on how power has evolved in the modern world. This book, titled THE FUTURE OF POWER is authored by Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former Dean at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

 

In the era of Kennedy and Khrushchev, Nye writes, power resources were measured in terms of nuclear missiles, industrial capacity, and number of men under arms and tanks lined up ready to cross the plains of Eastern Europe. But the global information age of the twenty-first century is quickly rendering these traditional marks of power obsolete, remapping power relationships.

 

The book is said to be “a new power narrative that considers the shifts, innovations, bold technologies, and new relationships that will define the twenty-first century.”

 

The book uses three epithets repeatedly to qualify power: hard power, soft power and smart power.

 

In his preface to the book the author quotes Secretary of the Defense Robert Gates urging U.,S. Government to commit more money to ‘soft power tools’, including diplomacy, economic assistance and communications. U.S. military spending, he pointed out, was more than $ 36 trillion. Joseph Nye has coined the phrase ‘smart power’ to describe a nation’s capacity “to combine hard and soft power into effective strategies in varying contexts.”

 

An interesting example cited by the author in the context of Pakistan going nuclear runs as follows:

 

In the mid-1970s, France agreed to sell Pakistan a nuclear reprocessing plant that could extract plutonium, a material that could be used either for civilian purposes or for bombs. Concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons, the Ford administration tried to stop the plant by buying off Pakistan with high-performance aircraft, but Pakistan refused the deal. Both the Fort and Carter administrations tried to prevail upon France to cancel the sale, but the French refused on the grounds that it was a legitimate sale for civilian purposes only. 

 

Nothing seemed to work until June 1977, when I (the author) was in charge of Jimmy Carter’s nonproliferation policy and was allowed to present French officials with new evidence that Pakistan was preparing a nuclear weapon. A top French official looked me in the eye and told me that if this were true, France would have to find a way to cancel the completion of the plant.  Subsequently, he was as good as his word, and the plant was not completed.

 

“How did the United States accomplish this major objective ? No threats were issued. No payments were made. No carrots were dangled or sticks brandished. French behavior changed because of persuasion and trust. I was there and saw it happen.  This hardly fits the usual model of power that is prevalent in most editorials or in recent foreign policy books that do not consider persuasion a form of power because it “is essentially an intellectual or emotional process”.

 

TAILPIECE

 

seal-bookA major event of 2011 was Washington’s remarkable success in locating the perpetrator of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and eliminating him.

 

A retired Indian Foreign Service Official gifted me on this New Year a book titled SEAL TARGET GERONIMO by Chuck Pfarrer I look forward with interest to reading this ‘inside story’ of that episode. Meanwhile, I have seen reports on the Internet quoting U.S. Special Operations describing this book as ‘a fabrication’ !

 

 

L.K. Advani

New Delhi

Jan 03, 2012

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