Mon, Dec 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Hard, rather than soft

By Matthew Kohut

James Holmes's assertion that the Chinese navy is burnishing its soft power ("China's navy flexing `soft power,'" Dec. 15, page 8) reflects a misunderstanding of the concept of soft power. According to Harvard University's Joseph Nye, who Holmes acknowledges, soft power is the ability to get what you want without the use of bribes or coercion (eg, carrots or sticks).

A navy is by definition a big stick, regardless of any public relations campaign intended to mask its ability to coerce. US president Theodore Roosevelt understood this clearly when he dispatched the US Navy's "Great White Fleet" as a demonstration of "Big-Stick Diplomacy."

Matthew Kohut


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