POWER Introduction Earlier we suggested a simple working definition of power. Quite simply, power is influence. In world politics power is the ability of one actor (whether nation-state or other actor) to cause one or more other actors to do what the first actor desires. Power can used both to compel behavior and to deter behavior. To deter is to cause another actor to do what that actor otherwise would not do. Deterrence, in world politics, typically means one nation-state prevents another from doing what the second actor would otherwise have done. That action deterred can range from an attack, to building some weapon, to a wide range of diplomatic activities, to a similarly broad range of economic activities. Deterrence is preventing some activity in which another would otherwise engage. To compel is the inverse of deterrence. To compel, one actor causes another actor to do what the second actor otherwise would not have done. Conceptually, there is a clear distinction between deterring and compelling. In practice, the distinction often becomes blurred. For instance, consider some person standing on a busy intersection sidewalk. Picture the person taking her first step into the busy street and a fast-moving automobile heading toward the unsuspecting pedestrian. As the automobile approaches rapidly, let us imagine our pedestrian finally looking up to see the consequences of her next step—namely, a collision and a probable disaster for the pedestrian. The approaching automobile can be considered influential or powerful in the pedestrian’s next move. In other words, the automobile presumably has power relative to the pedestrian. The question, however, becomes a conceptual one: does the approaching automobile prevent the pedestrian’s the pedestrian’s next step—deterrence? Or has the approaching automobile caused the pedestrian to freeze in place—compelled? Conceptually a distinction can be made but for practical purposes it matters little where the automobile deterred or compelled—power was exerted. Both compelling behavior and deterring behavior are exercises of power. In world politics both types of power are featured. Both exercises of power have both conventional and strategic (nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction) applications. For example, consider “tripwire” defenses in Europe during the Cold War or the Korean peninsula even today. In Europe, U.S. and European troops were stationed on NATO military bases along the periphery of the then Soviet Union. In fact, the U.S. stationed hundreds of thousands of Americans with their NATO host-country’s troops for decades and even after the Cold War ended. No policymaker in Washington actually believed that even hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops with their European cohort would be sufficient to prevent the Soviet Red Army from marching into Western Europe if Moscow decided to send its troops into Western Europe. Instead, the troops served as a tripwire defense. If Moscow had ever been so reckless to start war and invade Western Europe, many American and other European troops would have perished (as would have many Soviet troops). In effect, U.S. troops served as an initial expenditure that would then trip Washington’s next move which would have been to spirit much larger concentrations of troops immediately to the area. During the Cold War the same tripwire divided North and South Korea and in fact today some 35,000 troops remain stationed around the 38th parallel to deter a repeat of the North Korean invasion of South Korea. As we consider in a subsequent chapter, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union arrayed nuclear weapons against each other to deter nuclear war between. Power’s Characteristics Distinctions between power used to compel versus power used to deter point to additional characteristics of power worth note. First, is with most other instances, power in world politics is nearly always a means toward some end rather than an end in itself. There is no point in having power just for its own sake. Some absolute degree of power is meaningless unless it can be used to cause some outcome. Second, power can only be measured in relative terms. One actor has more or less power only relative to some other actor. Absolute measurements of power are pointless for purposes of world politics. Third, for power to be meaningful in global political terms relevant actors must be able to assess one actor’s power relative compared to another’s . When we said one actor has more or less power only relative to another, implicitly, measurement is necessary. Unless one actor can demonstrate its power relative to another actor the first actor cannot predictably exert its power. Both actors need some common understanding of what makes one powerful and what makes one less powerful. As discussed previously, Realpolitik (Part I) assumes that nation-states seek to acquire as a practical matter of self interest. Powerful nation-states were assumed to do what is in their security interests as a matter of course. Further, relatively powerful nation-states were assumed to get what they desired with greater certainty and frequency than relatively weaker ones. While precise assessments of power are not required, nation-states (at least their policymakers) must be able to assess power in ordinal terms. In theory, all the world’s actors can be rank ordered in terms of relative power. While particulars may be problematic, the U.S. is clearly more powerful than say Haiti and Russia is clearly more powerful than Sierra Leone. We can suppose a list on which the U.S. would ranked near the top (most powerful) and Sierra Leone near the bottom (least powerful). Precision aside all that is required for power’s profitable use is that one actor be able to rank, more or less, its power relative to others. Accordingly, the global system’s relatively weaker actors would not challenge the system’s relatively more powerful ones. For present purposes, let us simply imagine the following. In world politics the most powerful and least powerful actors exist, at least in theory. Devising precise measurement of each is possible in theory as well. We could devise some “power index” if necessary and use to characterize various degrees of power of all the system’s various actors. No such mechanism is necessary for present purposes. Most of the system’s actors know who is powerful and who is not, even if they could not precisely enumerate every single actor’s relative power. Sources of Power in World Politics A nation-state’s power is a product of many variables. The main ones may be divided into tangible and intangible components. Tangible sources are the mostly intuitive things that make nation-states powerful relative to one another. Missiles, tanks, and ammunition, for instance, are all tangible items and they can certainly help one nation-state be powerful relative to others. Intangible items would include public cohesiveness, competent leadership, public will and the like. Both tangible and intangible variables contribute to the potential power of global actors. For purposes of analysis, tangible and intangible sources of power may be further divided into three main categories. Natural Sources Natural sources of power are tangible sources of a country’s power. The most intuitive and straightforward of said sources is natural resources. Nation-states that control and can harness natural resources are relatively powerful. The more resources a nation-state controls, the more powerful that nation-state is potentially. Not surprisingly, well situated geographies tend to control large and varied resource bases. Russia and the U.S. are both examples of controlling large varied resource bases that translate to power in global governance. On the other hand, Japan does not possess so many resources yet Japan has emerged as a relatively powerful nation-state. The resources that lie within a nationstate’s jurisdiction are presumably more easily controlled than ones that lie outside its jurisdiction. Nevertheless, controlling the resources is what matters more than possessing them. The example of Japan raises another natural source of potential power. As discussed earlier, nation-states that are partly a function a particular geography. Certain geographies lend themselves to the accrual of power. For instance, being situated in such a place that lends itself easily to control other geographies increases the potential for power. Entire geostrategic hypotheses have been tested demonstrating correlations between geography and power in global politics. The nation-state that controls the European landmass, controls the Eurasian landmass, controls the world, argued Sir Halford Mackinder in the early twentieth century. Mackinder was a British geographer who presented a paper in 1904 called “The Geographical Pivot of History.” Mackinder’s thesis consisted of three logical propositions based on geography as potential power: Who ruled a strategic part of Europe commanded the heartland of Europe. Whoever ruled the heartland commanded the world island, that is, Eurasia. And who ruled the world island controlled the world. Other geostrategic hypotheses have been argued. Alfred T. Hahan articulated what he considered three “principal conditions” for a nation to marshal and project power by sea.1 Geography can increase one’s potential power. Conversely, being poorly situated, to use Mahan’s argument therefore makes a nation comparatively weaker. Russia’s geography has made it both strong (strategic location in Europe, control of many resources, so on) and weak at various times in Russia’s history. Russia’s many borders, for instance, have meant that Russia has been attacked from many directions in its past. That Russia exists in both Europe (west of the Urals) and Asia (east of the Urals) meant that Russia was never wholly either. That in turn has meant that powerful peoples in either Europe or Asia have gazed on Russia with envy. Russia, consequently, has been vulnerable to many hostilities. Russia’s geography has also determined that Russia’s access to warm-water ports would be limited. Due to Russia’s latitude, Russia’s access to the seas is frozen over part of the year. Conversely, the lack of sea access year round meant that great sea powers could not attack Russia from the seas, leaving Russia’s leaders to position Russian defenses near avenues of likely attack. Geography can be a bonus or a bane and, as Mahan clearly intended, how a nation’s policymakers exploit their geography was crucial. 1 Allan Westcott, editor, Mahan on Naval Warfare (Mineola, NY, Courier Dover Publications, 1999). Controlling geography requires people to enforce a nation-state’s control over geography. Another natural source of potential power worth our attention, therefore, is population. All else being equal, a nation-state that can muster a large military tends to be powerful. Population, however, can also work to a nation’s advantage and disadvantage. Consider India. India’s population exceeds one billion. In theory, India should be able to arm a certain portion of its billion (say, all those able citizens of certain ages) in India’s military and defense forces. One key to population is whether the population is amenable to mobilization. Only when a nation-state is able to mobilize its population into a coordinated effort does that population make a nation-state powerful. One way to consider it is if the nation-state can exploit its population versus whether the population exploits the nation-states resources, then the nation-state is typically relatively powerful. Three natural sources of global power are natural resources, geography, and population. Of the three, geography is the most intuitive. The more resources a nation-state controls, the more powerful is the nation-state’s potential. Geography makes nation-states powerful and weak depending upon what the nation-state’s leaders do with the nation-state’s geography. Insofar as a nation-state is able to mobilize its population, then that nation-state tends to be relatively more powerful. Conversely, when a nation-states population becomes burdensome, the nation-state is exploited by its population rather than empowered by it. All the natural resources are tangible. Each can be touched and felt. Provided a suitable scale or metric were provided, various nation-states can be rank ordered (at least in theory) against one another so that a power scale could be generated (ordinal power ranking) in terms of natural power. Other sources that are less easily measured also contribute to a nation-state’s potential power. Socio-Psychological Sources of Power Additional sources of potential power are intangible but no less important. Like tangible ones, intangible sources of power exist and affect how world politics are conducted on a regular basis. Nation-states are powerful only insofar as the nation’s people contribute to their power. Consider the parts and peoples of the former Yugoslavia nation-state as illustrative. Yugoslavia was a political creation whereby different peoples with different languages, cultures, religions, and aspirations were cobbled together. Once the stultifying effects of European communism were removed (1990-1991), Yugoslavia became a mass of violence and chaos. Yugoslavia failed in actuality once the forces that held Yugoslavia together ceased to exist. Being “Yugoslavian” was exposed as a fiction. Croats, Serbs, Kosovo-Albanians, Slovenians, Bosnians, and others nationalities and/or ethnicities characterized the disparate peoples who were artificially integrated under Marshal Josip Broz Tito and Yugoslav nationality. When the communist means of coercion collapsed the one-time “balkanized” Yugoslavia quickly unraveled into its constituent pieces. As the Yugoslavia example demonstrated, public cohesiveness is an important source of potential power and it is an intangible source. While the analyst cannot “touch” public cohesiveness, it is nevertheless critical. Like other socio-psychological sources intangibles contribute to a nation-state’s potential power. Public will probably cannot exist without some public cohesiveness, but pubic cohesiveness does not automatically equate to public will. Leadership is another difficult concept to measure but it clearly affects a people’s potential power. Leadership can create cohesiveness and public will. To select one controversial example, Adolf Hitler rallied the German people in behalf of the Nazi fatherland. Arguably, Hitler’s leadership initially made Germany more powerful. In fact, so powerful did Germany become that a backlash eventually materialized and other nationals aligned themselves to stop the German juggernaut. Nevertheless, leadership can clearly result in power just as surely as poor leadership contributes to weakness. The latter may be illustrated with another figure from the World War Two period, Neville Chamberlin. Chamberlin’s “appeasement” of Nazi Germany contributed to Germany’s ambitions and ultimately to Britain’s near defeat in World War Two. Regime type likely contributes to a nation-state’s potential power but the correlation is direct and indirect simultaneously. Democracy generally corresponds to stability, for instance, which in turn makes governments and nation-states more powerful. In the short term, however, authoritarian regimes are not held accountable to their citizens’ wishes. In theory, then, an authoritarian regime might well engage in provocative behavior, conquering its neighbors and the like, leading at least to short term gain in resources and power. Socio-psychological sources of power are arguably less intuitive that tangible natural sources. Socio-psychological sources nevertheless contribute in interesting and complex ways to a nation-state’s potential power. Any attempt to measure adequately the relative power of one world politics actor versus another would necessarily include efforts to assess both the intangible and tangible resources and the synthetic ones created out of both. In our third and final category of the sources of power in global politics, we turn to tangible and intangible sources combined in myriad important ways. Synthetic Sources: Combining Tangible and Intangible Sources As we suggested earlier, certain nation-states are powerful despite the fact that they posses relatively few natural resources. Japan, for example, is a nation-state whose geography does not include an abundance of natural resources and yet Japan, as is commonly understood, is a relatively powerful global actor. Without great natural wealth and affluence Japan has managed to marshal multiple resources to make Japan a relatively powerful nation-state. Regionally, Japan is clearly one of the most powerful nation-states in Asia. Japan has about one-third China’s land mass and, therefore, has a smaller base from which natural resources come. Indeed, the CIA’s World Factbook lists the following under resources: Japan “negligible” and China “coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest).” Yet almost no one thinks Japan is only one third as powerful as China. What makes Japan a relatively powerful nation despite its smaller size and resource base? The answer, as the CIA suggests, includes the fact that Japan has been able to control resources that it does not possess within its borders and to combine homogenous Japanese population and resulting cohesion, leadership and planning, access to resources from around the world, and Japan’s incredible industrialization and modernization “miracles” into an import-export infrastructure that is the envy of the world. Through particularly perspicacious leadership, from accessing natural resources from around the world, and from implementing carefully patterned policies to exploit resources to their fullest, Japan has created synthetic sources of power. The synthesis marked Japan’s rapid increase of power in the late 19th century and again in the mid-to-late 20th century. “Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and the third-largest economy in the world after the US and China, measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.”2 In other words, Japan positioned itself to be an integral part of globalization of the world economy. By doing so Japan combined tangible and intangible sources of potential power into a synthesis of both. Nor is Japan the only good example. The U.S. military, for instance (a tangible thing to be sure), is powerful not singly because it has some number of missiles, airplanes, armor, artillery pieces, and so forth. It is powerful because America’s international political history required the U.S. to combine its many varied resources along with a domestic infrastructure (highways, railways, shipping ports, education, etc.) created the synthesis of the world’s most modern, technologically advanced, lethal, civilian-controlled professionally trained corps of officers, non-commissioned officers, and troops that ensure the military’s high level of functioning. Similar to Japan, America’s own power potential is an example of the synthesis was the U.S.’s rapid rise as a military power from its original isolationist posture. U.S. geography physically isolated the U.S. from Europe. Prior to technological improvements, travel between the U.S. and Europe was time consuming. Consequently, Washington directed and Americans supported the U.S. foreign policy posture of isolationism until the 20th century. U.S. isolationism permitted the U.S. to concentrate on its economic and other national interests with little outside interference and with little planning to mitigate said interference. Ultimately, America’s geography permitted the U.S. a sustained period during which U.S. policymakers concentrated on its economic and defense interests, thereby leading to the U.S. rise as a hegemonic power following WW II. Both natural and socio-psychological sources were exploited by policymakers as synthetic sources. Each of the three clusters of sources contributes to potential power of global actors, typically but not always nation-states. International organizations (IOs) such as the UN do not represent power independently. The UN, for instance, has no military nor does it have territory to protect. Only insofar as its member nation-states permit the UN to exert power does the UN have power. Nevertheless, once empowered by its signatory nation-states, the UN ultimately affects world politics simply by virtue of the influence the UN can bring to bear on a specific cause. While the UN has yet to help resolve the horrible genocide that occurs in Darfur (Sudan), the UN’s many forums and meetings that have gather diplomats from the UN’s member states serve to focus increased attention on Darfur. Other IOs and even transnational, non-state actors may represent power in world politics as well. NATO can be viewed as representing various nation-states’ power. So too has the organization of petroleum producing nations (OPEC) influenced politics at times. Since 9/11 many analysts have begun to consider non-state actors such as al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri do not represent a nationstate, though their goals include re-establishment of the Islamic super state know as the Caliphate. The 2 The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, “Natural Resources,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2111.html (accessed August 18, 2007). attacks they directed against the U.S. on 9/11 clearly influenced world politics in substantial manner. By traditional measures, al Qaeda is a weak world actor but 9/11 demonstrated the importance of synthetic sources of power. Another synthetic source of power is the percent of a nation-state’s resources (tangible and intangible), policymakers are willing to devote to economic and military prowess and the extent to which a nation’s public supports national-security goals. A nation-state’s import-export infrastructures are yet another synthetic source of power combining resources, population, and fairly abstract factors such as how entrepreneurial a nation-state’s people are and how amenable a people’s governmental regulations that shape economics. Obviously, linkages exist between a country’s economic viability and its military prowess. Since we cannot hope to exhaust all synthetic combinations here, we simply provide a couple of useful examples. Additional variables such as technology and its complex intersections with military and economic power, for instance, suggest many synthetic combinations that could be discussed given more time. The main point is to suggest how tangible and intangible sources of national power combine in interesting ways as synthetic sources of power. Several times we have modified power with the adjective potential. Potential power, it must be stressed, is not the same as usable power. Consider the nation-state of Nigeria on Africa central, western coast. Oil is among Nigeria’s natural resources with some twenty percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product and 65% of its budgetary revenues derived from petroleum industries. Compared to say the Sudan, Nigeria is relatively resource affluent. However, Nigeria has long been hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management. Since emancipation from British colonialism in 1960, Nigeria has been plagued by said problems which have prevented Nigeria’s government and peoples from realizing Nigeria’s power potential. If Nigeria’s infrastructure were such that its oil wealth could fully be exploited, Nigeria might develop into a relatively powerful nation. Unless and until Nigeria’s tangible and intangible resources are utilized and exploited, Nigeria will continue to languish in terms of world influence and nation-states with fewer resources will continue to exert more power than Nigeria. Nigeria’s situation illustrates the another feature of international or global power that makes power relatively unique and not particularly fungible. As noted, simply having abundant resources does not constitute active or usable power. That potential must be realized through some process that may be distinguished in phases. Call it power’s utility or efficacy. Power’s efficacy can be conceptualized as a continuum. Toward one terminus of the continuum is potential power. Toward the other terminus is active (usable) power. At least three distinct phases of power can be conceptualized: potential power, mobilized power, and active power. Potential power is the intrinsic power that results from geography, resources, population, and so forth. Mobilized power is the power when both tangible and intangible sources of national power are harnessed, however slightly. Degrees of mobilization, of course, exist but for our purposes we need not differentiate between partial mobilization and full mobilization. As power’s efficacy continuum suggests, in theory, one can distinguish, say one percent mobilized up to say 100 percent mobilized. Only when national power is employed to influence world politics can national power be characterized as deployed or active. Manifestations of active power vary from diplomatic actions to coercion to open hostilities. Potential ------------------ Mobilized -------------------- Active Power’s Efficacy Indeed, if one imposes linear time over the continuum of power’s efficacy the three distinct phases can be illustrated. Let us again use Nigeria to demonstrate. Nigeria did not suddenly discover Nigeria’s oil wealth in 1960. It might as well have since prior to independence neither Nigeria’s people nor its government controlled resources located in Nigeria’s territory. At some point, Nigeria (versus Britain) controlled and harnessed its oil and other resources. As Nigeria matured as an independent nation-state and as it increasingly harnessed its oil sector, Nigeria’s power moved from potential power to mobilized power. If Nigeria subsequently used its resources to affect world politics, Nigeria’s power could be characterized as active power. To take an obvious example, subsequent to independence, Nigeria’s government and people (and private interests who provided capital) harnessed its power. Let us imagine Nigeria using its oil wealth, to build a technologically sophisticated military which Nigeria subsequently used its military to cause Nigeria’s much smaller neighbor, Benin, into some behavior, Nigeria can be said to have exercised its power. Power exercised is active power. Yet two often confused uses of active power can be further distinguished by considering linear time. Time 0 ------------------------------------------------------------- Time 0+n Potential -------------------- Mobilized -------------------- Active Power’s Efficacy Two relatively common usages of active power are preventive and preemptive power. Specifically, a military attack designed to prevent an enemy’s movement from the status of potential power to the status of mobilized power is said to be a preventive attack or strike. Alternatively, a military strike used to disrupt an enemy’s movement from mobilized to active power is said to be preemptive. Obviously, the conception of linear time is integral. For example, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, U.S. hostilities against Japan were not imminent. Therefore, Japan’s attack was designed to prevent the U.S. from mobilizing U.S. power that might subsequently be used against Japan. In contrast, in 1967 Israel was surrounded by its hostile neighbors, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. When Israel launched its attack against those nation-states, hostilities against Israel were imminent. The three governments had arrayed their militaries on their respective borders with Israel and plotted to hatch their attack against Israel within hours. Israel pre-empted the attack being prepared against it. Despite conventional wisdom that the U.S. launched a pre-emptive attack against Iraq in March 2003, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was preventive. In order for the intervention to have been pre-emptive, an attack by Iraq against the U.S. would have necessarily been imminent. Whether U.S. policymakers believed Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the U.S. is another matter altogether. Unless President Bush administration is an inveterate liar, it would appear that the president believed an attack against the U.S. was likely if not quite imminent. In actuality, Iraq represented no imminent threat to the U.S. Preventive wars are probably far more difficult to justify in pluralistic polities that pre-emptive ones. In the latter case, for whatever reasons, a government merely needs to justify actions to forestall almost certain disaster. Measuring Power We have mentioned the issue of measuring power repeatedly. Measuring power is far more important that simply rank ordering the world’s 190-plus nation-states. If the policymakers that animate nationstates are reasonably rational, by which we simply mean they judge threats in terms of costs and benefits are select policies on that basis, measuring power is critical. Under normal conditions, a comparatively weaker global actor would not choose to invade a relatively stronger one. Policymakers of various governments must have some relatively simple and intuitive way to gauge how powerful their nation-state is relative to potential challengers. Rough military capabilities along with nominal calculations of a people’s will are commonly made by policymakers and they are probably mostly accurate. Of course, since calculations or power are merely ordinal and lack precision means that misjudgments are not uncommon in world politics. Surely our readers can think of examples of wars, for instance, in which misjudgments were made by some policymakers about others. Japan’s leaders surely must have presumed that Japan roughly equaled the U.S. in overall power prior to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Policymakers in Washington consistently considered the U.S. comparatively more powerful than Viet Nam during the 1950s-1960s. More recently, Washington policymakers calculated the U.S. could topple Saddam Hussein’s regime relatively effortlessly. Neither is it clear that all those policymakers were completely wrong. Japan very nearly pulled off its strategic gamble. Had U.S. policymakers decided—and it was never justified and only rarely considered—to employ the totality of its power (i.e., U.S. nuclear power), it is doubtful that the U.S. would have beat so ignominious a retreat in April 1975. And while the U.S. languishes in Iraq today (2007), Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown relatively easily. The post-war occupation has been far-more difficult and U.S. policymakers appear not to have sufficiently planned for Saddam’s demise and the requisite occupation of Iraq that would follow it. The point is not to belabor the obvious: policymakers sometimes make dubious decisions. Instead, the point is that measuring power is a problematic task. Governments commonly make rough calculations regarding their nation-state’s power relative to potential enemies. Many of the intangible sources we discussed above can be measured with some precision. The total number of tanks, artillery pieces, missiles, the percent of a nation-state’s gross national product is involved, and other measurements frequently are counted by ministries of defense and intelligence. Intangible sources are less easily measured or at least when they are it is less often the case that all observers agree on the ultimate measurement. Doubtless, exceptionally sophisticated indices have been constructed by myriad government agencies. Given that said calculations are ordinal only, as useful a calculation can be made for our purposes by simply assessing power’s sources. Consider the following simple exercise as a case in point. Assume a five-point scale of ordinal power in which all values are mutually exclusive. Five corresponds to the most and one corresponds to least with gradations between and in which a value may only be assigned once. That is, out of the nation-states on the Y axis, [!!only one is possesses the most resources and only one the most potent conventional military relative to the others. Conversely, only one nation-state has the least resources relative to others. Each assignment of value subtracts a degree of freedom so that once five is assigned, only four additional values remain. Once four is assigned, only three values remain, and so. While analysts could reasonably argue whether the U.S. is more cohesive than Japan, let us simply assume the following values for purposes of illustration. Simply, summing the values approximates the relative power of each nation-state represented. [insert power matrix illustration] Summary Power is a crucial concept in world politics. If microeconomics focuses on the theoretical “firm” and the firm’s currency is the dollar (or its various national equivalents), then global governance focuses on the theoretical nation-state and the nation-state’s currency is power. Nation-states are a principal unit of analysis in world politics but as we have seen, nation-states are not the only important actors. As representatives of sovereignty, nation-states (the policymakers who animate them) are presumed to ensure their national interests, survival and perpetuation of the nation-states using power to influence outcomes that favor the nation-state’s interests. Power is another abstract concept but what constitutes power is fairly clear and simple. Power comes from tangible and intangible sources. When global actors control and exploit said sources they exercise power. Since power is a mean toward a specific end and since power is meaningful only when compared against other power, measuring power is important but problematic. Precise measurements are unavailable though we have suggested how rough measurements are possible and important in world politics. Power is an enduring concept in world politics and clearly predates the advent of the nation-state system. Power was exercised by authorized representatives of national sovereignty well before modern nation-states existed. Power has always been integral to major disruptions of the nation-state system known as wars. Power can be conceptualized in at least three distinct phases: potential, mobilized, and active power. Blocking another’s power as it transitions from potential to mobilized is known as a preventive exercise while blocking another’s power as it transitions from mobilized to active is a pre-emptive exercise of power. Finally, power can be used short of outright hostilities. Diplomacy is the use of power without resorting to war. Even diplomacy, however, is dependent on power as the threat of hostilities substitutes for its actuality. Power’s instrumentality is one of power’s defining characteristics.
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