The Sources of Power in World Politics, Essay Example

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The sources of power in international politics are many; they include tangible resources such as military prowess, variables such as information, technology and trade competitiveness as well. In addition, there are also less tangible sources of power, such as influences utilized by world leaders by establishing an agenda and developing the framework of debates and conflicts. It becomes extremely powerful for a world leader to be able to engage others in sharing that country’s values, as well as working towards common goals. Those “soft” sources of power involve the appeal of a country and its culture to other nations.

The nature of power has been transformed over the last several decades because of the changing strategies of the use of force, in particular weaponry. Despite the fact that weapons of mass destruction have been in existence since World War II, the attitudes of nations who possess nuclear weapons have evolved since there have been so many changes in technology, defense needs, and significant differences in global conditions. The strategies involved have ranged from compellence, deterrence, and preemption. Compellence was characterized by US domination in nuclear weaponry, when the country was essentially unchallenged in this area, and used the threat of nuclear warfare as leverage in international conflicts, particularly with the Soviet Union. Eventually, the strategy became one of deterrence, with the goal of dissuading an enemy from taking aggressive action against a country or its allies. This evolved as a result of understanding clearly the devastating nature of using nuclear weapons to address international conflicts. In some ways, the deterrence strategy was counterproductive because it precipitated a nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War brought about a new strategy, that of preemption: that the United States had the right to attack nations who they believed pose a threat, and did not have to wait to be attacked. The preemptive strategy is a tremendous change to US policy, because self-defense has always been the rationale to attack another country. After September 11, the preemptive strategy was utilized to begin the Iraq War. It appears that measuring the power of states, under those terms, involves the ability to perceive accurately legitimate threats and respond to them mightily before an attack on the homeland can happen. This requires superior intelligence, which actually was not the case either before or during the Iraq war.

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