Harvard Kennedy School

Joseph Nye: Global Politics

Editor’s Note: Joseph Nye is an American political scientist and former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He currently holds the position of University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University where he has been a member of the faculty since 1964. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. He is an author of some great books including Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics; Understanding International Conflict; and The Power Game: A Washington Novel. In 2008 he published The Powers to Leadand his latest book published in 2011 is The Future of Power. He also spoke at TED on Global power shifts.

You can read his full bio from here, here and here. To learn more about his ideas, insights, research and experience on global politics, you can read his personal blog and huffington post blog.

eTalk’s Niaz Uddin has interviewed Joseph Nye recently to gain insights about his ideas, research and works in the field of global politics which is given below.

Niaz: Dear Joseph, thank you so much for joining us. We are honored and thrilled to have you at eTalks.

Joseph: Thank you Niaz for having me.

Niaz: At the beginning of our interview, can you please tell us about ‘21st Century’s Global Leadership’?

Joseph: As the National Intelligence Council report on the world in 2030 concluded, the US is likely to remain the leading power in world politics, but it will be primus inter pares and have to pay attention to others.

Niaz: Who are the current aspiring global leaders to you?

Joseph: The most important is China, but Europe remains important when it is able to act as an entity, and India and Brazil are increasing their roles.

Niaz: As you know globalization, information technology, social media, technological innovation and digital media have been revolutionizing our life significantly. Now, in what kind of international world do we live?

Joseph: I use the term ‘Global Information Age’ to describe the current world.

Niaz: As the rise of globalization and as the spread of international community, how our society is changing? Is the way to achieve socio-political success also changing?

Joseph: I believe that global interdependence and the current communications revolution will continue to increase, so success will require adapting to these forces.

Niaz: Keeping in account this configuration, how do you see the near future?

Joseph: It will vary in different areas. I expect the US to remain strong, and China to grow at a slightly slower rate than in the past decade.  I worry about how long it will take Europe and Japan to recover higher rates of economic growth.  The future of the Middle East remains most uncertain.

Niaz: In 2004, you have published your book Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics’. What does soft power mean?

Joseph: Power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes you want, and that can be done by coercion, payment or attraction. Soft power is the ability to get the outcomes you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.

Niaz: How is soft power the means to success in world politics?

Joseph: Soft power alone is rarely sufficient for success, but it is often necessary for long-term success.

Niaz: Some people have started to believe that Google is going to control the whole world. By this time, we have seen Google to use its monopoly power. Google’s search algorithms “decide” what is relevant and valuable. Isn’t it tempting for democratic and free-market states to seek control of these technologies in order to exert the kind of “soft power” you describe?

Joseph: Google is a powerful company, but it faces competition from other companies, and anti trust scrutiny from the European Union and the United States.

Niaz: In your book The Power to Lead you argued that leaders need both soft power and hard power. Can you please tell us a bit about hard power? And how leaders can combine soft power and hard power?

Joseph: The ability to combine hard  power (coercion and payment) with soft power  in a manner in which they reinforce each other is what I call a smart power strategy.

Niaz: As you know there’s a dilemma between individual power and power of society, because if one person has power to attract and control whole society, what others can do?

Joseph: It is important to have constitutional limits to prevent one person from controlling the whole society. The American founding fathers accomplished this by creating checks and balances so that power could not concentrate in the chief executive. It makes for inefficient government, but it preserves liberties.

Niaz: We see from time to time, people with power dominate and control the whole society. As a result, mass people, businesses, democracy, capitalism suffer profoundly and the society starts malfunctioning. Can you please briefly tell us about how to use power to make our society a better place?

Joseph: In addition to the constitutional checks and balances, it is important to have a strong civil society, including a free press able and willing to criticize the government.

Niaz: And what are the responsibilities and roles political leaders should play to make sure that no one is abusing power?

Joseph: Self-restraint by leaders is also part of the solution.

Niaz: Can you please briefly tell us about your latest book, which was published in 2011, ‘The Future of Power’?

Joseph: The Future of Power has chapters on the meaning of power, military power, economic power, soft power and cyber power.

Niaz: Having said that, which countries are going to play major roles in the future power game?

Joseph: In addition to the US, China and other countries mentioned above, non state actors will play a larger role in future power games.

Niaz: What are the challenges for other countries? And how can they come forward and join in this power game.

Joseph: Keeping a strong civil society that is open to the outside world is crucial to success in the long term.

Niaz: Dear Joseph thanks again for your invaluable time. We are enlightened with your ideas, knowledge and experience. We wish you good luck for all of your endeavors. Take very good care of yourself.

Joseph: You’re welcome Niaz.

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Further Reading:

1. Peter Klein on Entrepreneurship, Economics and Education

2. Derek Sivers on  Entrepreneurship, CD Baby and Wood Egg

3. F. M. Scherer on Industrial Economy, Digital Economy and Innovation

4. Diego Comin on Entrepreneurship, Technology and Global Economic Development

5. Stephen Walt on Global Development

6. Juliana Rotich on Social Entrepreneurial Innovation

Robert Stavins: Environmental Economics

Editor’s Note: Robert Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Director of Graduate Studies for the Doctoral Program in Public Policy and the Doctoral Program in Political Economy and Government, and Co-Chair of the  Harvard Business School-Kennedy School Joint Degree Programs, and Director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.

To read his full bio, please visit here, here and here.

eTalk’s Niaz Uddin has interviewed Robert Stavins recently to gain insights about Environmental Economics which is given below.

Niaz: Dear Robert, thank you so much for joining us in the midst of your busy schedule. We are so honored to have you at eTalks.

R. Stavins: Thanks for having me Niaz.

Niaz: You are one of the most influential voices in environmental economics and the field of environmental economics is more important than ever.  At the beginning of our interview, can you please tell us about environmental economics?

R. Stavins: In a market economy – the form of economic system that is now found in nearly all countries of the world – the cause of environmental problems are fundamentally economic, namely the fact that environmental pollution is an externality, a negative, unintended consequence of economic activity, whether carried out by individuals or firms.  In addition, the consequences of environmental problems have important economic dimensions.  For these two reasons, economics and economic analysis provide an exceptionally useful lens through which to examine environmental problems, so that they are fully understood, and so that as a result public policies can be designed which are environmentally effective, economically sensible, and therefore more likely to be politically pragmatic.

Over the past two decades, environmental economics has evolved from what was once a relatively obscure application of welfare economics to a prominent field of economics in its own right.  The number of articles on the natural environment appearing in mainstream economics periodicals has continued to increase, as has the number of economics journals dedicated exclusively to environmental and resource topics.  Likewise, the influence of environmental economics on public policy has increased significantly, particularly as greater use has been made of market-based instruments for environmental protection.

Niaz: Do you think environmental economics is conflicting with capitalism or market economy? Why or why not?

R. Stavins: At first blush, many people think of the phrase “environmental economics” as oxymoronic – an internal contradiction – since it’s either the economy or the environment.  Although there are typically trade-offs between environmental protection and narrowly-defined economic well-being (i.e., financial well-being), for the reasons I stated above, environmental economics is not an internal contradiction, but rather an effective discipline with which to study the performance of proposed and implemented environmental policies.

Niaz: What are the distinctive perspectives of environmental economics that make it the next big thing for entrepreneurs, innovators, economists as well as researchers?

R. Stavins: Given the threat of global climate change, which will bring seriously economic damages when it occurs and which will require significant economic sacrifices to mitigate, an environmental economic perspective is increasingly important for a broad range of sectors in private industry.

Niaz: Dear Robert thanks again for finding time in the midst of your busy schedule.

R. Stavins: You’re welcome Niaz.

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Further Reading:

1. Peter Klein on Entrepreneurship, Economics and Education

2. Derek Sivers on  Entrepreneurship, CD Baby and Wood Egg

3. F. M. Scherer on Industrial Economy, Digital Economy and Innovation

4. Diego Comin on Entrepreneurship, Technology and Global Economic Development

5. Stephen Walt on Global Development

6. Juliana Rotich on Social Entrepreneurial Innovation

7. Naeem Zafar on Entrepreneurship for the Better World

Stephen Walt: Global Development

Editor’s Note: Stephen Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. He has been a Resident Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, and he has also served as a consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University.

Professor Walt is the author of The Origins of Alliances (1987), which received the 1988 Edgar S. Furniss National Security Book Award. He is also the author of Revolution and War (1996), Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy (2005), and, with co-author J.J. Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby (2007).

You can read his full bio from herehere and here. For reading his blog on international relation, foreign policy and global affairs please click here.

eTalk’s Niaz Uddin has interviewed Stephen Walt recently to gain insights about his ideas, research and works in the field of Global Development which is given below.

Niaz: Dear Stephen, thank you so much for joining us. We are honored and thrilled to have you at eTalks.

Stephen: My pleasure.

Niaz: You are a realist in an ideological age. You have been a leader in the field of International Affairs. You have done a significant amount of research and added gigantic amount of knowledge in this field.

As you know, by this time, we have developed superb technologies, published millions of great books and developed a lot as human beings. At the beginning of our interview, can you please tell us, how far have we progressed?

Stephen: From one perspective, human progress is remarkable. In the past 500 years, we have identified many of the basic laws of the physical universe, discovered the principles of evolution and genetic inheritance, eliminated many diseases, and lifted millions of people out of poverty.  And along the way humans have created a vast and diverse array of music, literature, and art. Yet these same creative impulses have also been used to create powerful technologies of destruction and various harmful ideologies. Human progress remains a decidedly uneven phenomenon.

Niaz: What are the lacking, scope and opportunity to progress?

Stephen: By developing language, humans became able to record and communicate their discoveries and to work together to create new realities and possibilities. That capacity remains the greatest source of human potential: our collective ability to work together to achieve common ends.

Niaz: Despite all of the progresses we have, why countries keep fighting each other?

Stephen: At the most basic level, conflict between nations arises from a combination of fear, greed, and stupidity. Humans are social beings, and we are hard-wired to establish group identities and loyalties. Once formed, social groups tend to worry about what other groups may do to them, and this basic insecurity drives competition that sometimes leads to war. That’s fear.  States also fight because individual leaders have dreams of glory, or because they seek wealth through conquest and plunder. That’s greed. And finally, wars occur because leaders are fallible; they often misperceive or miscalculate. In particular, they convince themselves that victory will be swift and easy and then discover too late they were mistaken. That’s stupidity. Unfortunately, humankind remains all too prone to all three tendencies.

Niaz: Why do countries fail to build and sustain international relations? Can you please explain us the reasons? 

Stephen: In fact, countries form all sorts of valuable international connections. Global trade and investment has grown steadily, allowing millions to live more comfortably. Previously war-torn regions such as Europe have now known decades of peace. Information now flows all around the world at very low cost. Global institutions like the World Trade Organization or the United Nations have not eliminated global conflict, but they have helped keep international rivalries within bounds.

Yet there are still limits to what global institutions can accomplish. In particular, they cannot keep the most powerful countries from acting as they wish and from competing with each other for advantage. Nor can prevent some individuals and groups from using violence to advance their own political agendas.

Niaz: What do you think about the core problems of building sustainable international relations?

Stephen: I believe the core problem for the next century will be managing the development and rising power of Asia, and grappling with the political and social effects of environmental change. These two challenges will make many of our current concerns seem trivial by comparison.

Niaz: How can countries overcome those challenges?

Stephen: I believe the key to more effective global cooperation lies primarily in encouraging more honest and open global discourse. When countries are guided by myths, self-serving national narratives, and inaccurate information about political and natural phenomena, then clashes and errors are inevitable. By contrast, when humans are able to confront shared problems honestly and openly, they can identify where they disagree and are more likely to develop solutions that work. But it is still a fragile process.

Niaz: Is there any net gain from wars?

Stephen: In some cases, yes. States are sometimes able to improve their position via warfare, or at least can prevent others from gaining an advantage. But “rolling the iron dice of war” is always risky, because no one can be 100 percent sure how things will turn out. For example, it was clear in 2002 that the United States would not have much trouble defeating Saddam Hussein’s army, but the occupation of Iraq quickly turned into a costly quagmire and the final result is far from what the Bush administration intended. Because warfare is always an uncertain enterprise, wise leaders will go to war only when forced to fight.

Niaz: Can you imagine a world without any war? If yes! How can we build that world?

Stephen: I can. For one thing, as my Harvard colleague Steven Pinker has recently shown, the overall level of human violence has been declining fairly steadily for quite some time. Furthermore, I believe nuclear weapons are a powerful deterrent to great power wars, and it is these sorts of wars that cause the greatest human suffering. Lastly, I believe that our species has the capacity to learn, and this capacity can help us avoid some of the circumstances that have fueled war in the past. But none of these measures makes war impossible, which is why we need to remain vigilant against its occurrence.

Niaz: What are the responsibilities of developed countries to restrain them from war?  

Stephen: Because developed countries have the most military capability, they have the responsibility of not using it to oppress others. Sometimes developed countries can use force to deter or halt aggression, which is a good thing. But other times they use their superior power to coerce others, or they wage low-level conflicts that kill innocent people to no good purpose.

Niaz: As a global citizen what are our responsibilities for stop killing each others?

Stephen: I think the first step is for global citizens to try to inform themselves about events, and not to trust just what their own governments and media are telling them. A second step is to develop empathy, by trying to imagine how international problems look to others. We don’t have to agree with those whose interests may be different, but we should try to figure out how they see things, and why.  

Niaz: As you know, there are millions of NGOs and social organizations who work for removing poverty, protecting our environment and so on. But what happens in reality? Business Organizations do the harm. Chinese version of capitalism doesn’t work. Governments are corrupted. And NGOs form for doing good. NGOs keep taking donations from business organizations to survive. Overall, this is a strong circle which continues for hundreds of years. Where do our core problems reside actually?

Stephen: I think we need to be very careful here. There are many NGOs and business organizations who do wonderful work in a number of areas. At the same time, there are other organizations whose activities are actively harmful. What we need most is greater transparency: the more we know about what different organizations are actually doing, and the more we know about who is paying for these activities, the easier it is to judge whether they are a positive or negative force.

Niaz: Do you think we can remover poverty by these poverty removal activities?  Why or Why not?

Stephen: Yes, but the record here is mixed. On the plus side, economic development in countries like China and India have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and similar miracles have occurred in a few other places. But on the negative side, the gap between the richest countries and the poorest has actually grown over the past 100 years. When you combine this level of inequality with global communications you have a recipe for trouble, because people in the poorest countries or the poorest sectors can see how the wealthy people are living.

Niaz: What are your ideas to remove poverty and to make life better to contribute in this mother earth for making it a better place?

Stephen: I’m not an expert on economic development, but I think there are several obvious answers here. First, the only way to eliminate poverty is to increase productivity. Second, increasing productivity requires increasing educational levels, and bringing women into the work force in large numbers. It also rests on eliminating barriers to investment and trade, while at the same time creating a legal and regulatory environment that discourages corruption and prevents excessive concentrations of political power in the hands of the wealthy. But none of this is easy or automatic, and when you add it all up, you can see why sustained economic growth is so difficult to achieve.

Niaz: Any last comment?

Stephen: Only this: it is tempting to look for radical solutions, in the belief that some bold stroke will suddenly solve all our problems.   But I think history shows that grand schemes that are supposed to produce some magical solution rarely work, and often cause great misery. Human progress is due to more to patient, steady, trial-and-error efforts, and not from idealistic visions.

Niaz: Dear Stephen thanks again for your invaluable time. We are really enlightened with your ideas, knowledge and experience. We wish you good luck for all of our endeavors. Take very good care of yourself.

Stephen: You are welcome Niaz.

_  _  _  _  ___  _  _  _  _

Further Reading:

1. Peter Klein on Entrepreneurship, Economics and Education

2. Derek Sivers on  Entrepreneurship, CD Baby and Wood Egg

3. F. M. Scherer on Industrial Economy, Digital Economy and Innovation

4. Diego Comin on Entrepreneurship, Technology and Global Economic Development

5. Joseph Nye on Global Politics

6. Juliana Rotich on Social Entrepreneurial Innovation