My Soft Power

The top 10 reasons why Joe Nye's books keep landing on the recommended reading list for U.S. presidents.

Aaron Salcido
Aaron Salcido

When Foreign Policy‘s editors asked me to comment on why my books were repeatedly mentioned as recommended reading for potential presidents of the United States in Daniel W. Drezner’s roundup of book recommendations for 2012 GOP candidates, I was puzzled ("Get Smart," July/August 2011). I could think of at least 10 reasons, but I had difficulty ranking them. Here is my best effort:

10. Because Dan Drezner wrote that "all roads to understanding American foreign policy run through Joe Nye," and Dan is very influential.

9. Because my books are not about zombies (as Dan’s are).

8. Because Steve Clemons tweeted from the Aspen Ideas Festival that my book The Future of Power was "selling like hotcakes."

7. Because hotcakes are inexpensive.

6. Because President Hu Jintao told the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that China needs to increase its soft power.

5. Because I argue that China is not about to pass the United States in hard or soft power.

4. Because decline is fashionable. (Although I challenge the conventional wisdom about American decline, people may not have noticed.)

3. Because both the Economist and the Financial Times praised my latest book — but does the special relationship matter any longer?

2. Because The Future of Power has a chapter on cyberpower and the White House website keeps getting hacked.

1. Because presidents are insomniacs, and as my father used to say, my books are very effective — just one page each evening works very well.

Joseph S. Nye Jr.
University Distinguished Service Professor
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.

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