The Politics of Power: New Forces and New Challenges

By Haass, Richard N. | Harvard International Review, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Power: New Forces and New Challenges


Haass, Richard N., Harvard International Review


What are the primary forces that characterize power in today's world?

What you are asking boils down to distinctions between different kinds of power. Power comes in a number of packages. You have military power, economic power, diplomatic power, some would even say cultural power. What all these types of power have in common, however, is that power is not to be confused with influence. Power is another word for potential; power is a capacity. What foreign policy is about--what national security policy is about--is translating capacity, potential, and power into influence or accomplishments. Power is simply what you begin with. The question for the people who have it, wield it, or who influence those who wield it, is what do you do with that power.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

How is power distributed among states, and how is that distribution best measured?

It is a complicated question. Take the United States, for example. Obviously the United States has the greatest concentration of military power by an order of magnitude. The United States has tremendous economic power given the size of its roughly US$11 trillion economy. The United States also has enormous diplomatic power. These types of power are all dependent on one another: military power and political power are in part reflections of an economic foundation, and economic power is, in part, a reflection of the global stability that allows normal economic activity to take place. So various forms of power are to some extent interdependent.

In addition, what matters in international relations is not simply how much power you have, but how much power others have and what they do with it. Power as an end in itself is not very interesting. What really matters is one's ability to translate power into influence. So the fact that the United States may have far more military power than another country on paper is less relevant than the question of what amount of military power the United States is able and willing to bring to bear in a given situation, in contrast with the amount of relevant military power someone else is willing to bring to bear. It is extremely difficult to go from static measures, which do not reveal a great deal, to something that is more meaningful.

How have the forces of globalization shifted power, not only among states, but also among international organizations and non-state actors?

As your question suggests, one of the shifts has been away from states. States never quite had a monopoly on power. Even hundreds of years ago there were other actors, such as the Catholic Church and the Dutch East India Company. But it is fair to say that states now share more power with non-state actors than at any other time in history. A non-state actor can range from something that is quite small--it could be an individual on the Internet--to something quite large, such as the United Nations. It can be a multinational corporation. It can be a group like Greenpeace or Doctors Without Borders. It can be Al Qaeda or even Hezbollah. In other words, non-state actors can be benign or they can be anything but benign.

Power in its various forms is not, then, simply the province of nation-states. This is enhanced by globalization--by globalization I mean the flow of things across borders with tremendous velocity and in tremendous volume, whether ideas or people or drugs or arms or fissile material or greenhouse gases or money. What makes it so interesting is that in many cases these flows take place at such speed and in such volume that governments cannot control them. In some cases, governments do not even know about them. So there has been something of a shift away from states toward these other organizations. All that said, there is also a danger in allowing the analysis to go too far. States still remain the principal actors in the international system. More than any other set of actors, nation-states can shape the international system, and more than any other state, the United States can have an impact. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Politics of Power: New Forces and New Challenges
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.