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Commentaries by Joseph S. Nye

Joseph S. Nye

Professor, Harvard University

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is a professor at Harvard and author most recently of "Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump".
  • Mar 06, 2020

    Many Americans say they want a moral foreign policy, but disagree on what that means. Using a three-dimensional scorecard encourages us to avoid simplistic answers and to look at the motives, means, and consequences of a US president’s actions.

  • Jan 15, 2020

    When I told a friend I had just written a book on morality and foreign policy, she quipped: “It must be a very short book.” Such skepticism is common. An Internet search shows surprisingly few books on how US presidents’ moral views affected their foreign policies. As the eminent political theorist Michael Walzer once described American graduate training in international relations after 1945, “Moral argument was against the rules of the discipline as it was commonly practiced.”

  • Jan 10, 2020

    While a partial trade agreement has been reached between the US and China, few believe that a full truce is underway. For 2020, the two countries should focus on managing interdependence and “smart competition” instead of being consumed by exaggerated fears.

  • Dec 18, 2019

    In little more than a generation, the Internet has become a vital substrate for economic, social, and political interactions, and it has unlocked enormous gains. Along with greater interdependence, however, come vulnerability and conflict. Attacks by states and non-state actors have increased, threatening the stability of cyberspace.

  • Nov 08, 2019

    The Kremlin is on a roll. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has replaced the United States in Syria, continues to intervene in Eastern Ukraine, and recently hosted an African summit in Sochi. Appearances, however, can be deceptive. True, Russia retains a vast nuclear arsenal, equal in size to that of the US, and it used force effectively against Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014; provided military assistance to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria; and has used cyber means to disrupt US and other elections. But Russia can only be an international spoiler. Behind the adventurism, it is a country in decline.

  • Sep 12, 2019

    US President Donald Trump’s behavior at the recent G7 meeting in Biarritz was criticized as careless and disruptive by many observers. Others argued that the press and pundits pay too much attention to Trump’s personal antics, tweets, and political games. In the long run, they argue, historians will consider them mere peccadilloes. The larger question is whether the Trump presidency proves to be a major turning point in American foreign policy, or a minor historical blip.

  • Jul 17, 2019

    US President Donald Trump has been accused of weaponizing economic globalization. Sanctions, tariffs, and the restriction of access to dollars have been major instruments of his foreign policy, and he has been unconstrained by allies, institutions, or rules in using them.

  • Jun 10, 2019

    Earlier this year, American officials acknowledged that US offensive cyber operations had stopped Russian disruption of the 2018 congressional election. Such operations are rarely discussed, but this time there was commentary about a new offensive doctrine of “persistent engagement” with potential adversaries. Will it work?

  • May 09, 2019

    US President Donald Trump’s administration has shown little interest in public diplomacy. And yet public diplomacy – a government’s efforts to communicate directly with other countries’ publics – is one of the key instruments policymakers use to generate soft power, and the current information revolution makes such instruments more important than ever.

  • Apr 09, 2019

    Harvard Professor Joseph Nye discusses the need for the U.S. to adjust its foreign poicy attitudes. “We can’t think just of power ‘over’ other countries, we have to think of power ‘with other countries,” he asserts. “ Whether it be transnational terrorism or whether it be cyber-relations, whether it be global pandemics, these are issues where nobody is going to be able to accomplish it by themselves, so we're going to have to develop these networks of cooperation if we're going to govern and manage these types of processes,” he says during an interview with James Chau, Editor-at-Large of China-US Focus. And that means that “we're condemned to cooperate, because if we don't, we are really just condemned,” he says.

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