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Soft Power and US Foreign Policy: theoretical, historical and contemporary perspectives

Inderjeet Parmar and Michael Cox (eds)
Routledge (March 2010)

The rise of widespread negative attitudes towards US foreign policy, especially due to the war of aggression against Iraq and the subsequent military occupation of the country - has brought new attention to the meaning and instruments of soft power. In this edited collection, an outstanding line up of contributors provides the most extensive discussion of soft power to date. Soft power is the use of attraction and persuasion rather than the use of coercion or force in foreign policy. It arises from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals and policies, whereas hard power develops out of a country's military or economic might.

Soft Power has become part of popular political discourse since it was coined by Harvard’s Joseph Nye, and this volume features a brand new chapter by Nye outlining his views on soft, hard and smart power and offers a critique of the Bush administration’s inadequacies. He then goes on to examine the challenges for the incoming US president. The other contributions to the volume respond to Nye's views from a range of theoretical, historical and policy perspectives giving new insights in to both soft power and the concept of power itself.

This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of this key concept in foreign affairs and is essential reading for scholars of US foreign policy, public diplomacy, international relations and foreign policy analysis.

  • Michael Cox is Professor in the International Relations Department at LSE.
  • Inderjeet Parmar is Professor of Government and Head of the Department of Politics, University of Manchester.

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Soft Power and US Foreign Policy