NEWSWEEK: Could you define soft power for our readers?Read the entire interview.
Joseph S. Nye: It’s the ability to get what you want by attracting others rather than coercing them. If power is the ability to influence others to get what you want, there are three ways to do it: with threats (or sticks), with payments (or carrots) or by attraction and co-option — and that is soft power.
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In your book, you write that “it would be a mistake to dismiss the recent decline in our attractiveness so lightly.”
Yes, anti-Americanism has risen quite sharply over the last year or two. When people are asked why, they say it is because of American foreign policy not American culture. We lost on average 30 points per country in attractiveness among European countries, but the situation was even worse in the Islamic world. For example, in Indonesia, in 2000, three quarters of the people thought the United States was attractive and by May of 2003 that had dropped to 15 percent. And this is the largest Islamic country in the world and one where we need help in combating Jemaah Islamiah, which is an offshoot of Al Qaeda.