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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".
  • 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.

  • Apr 08, 2019

    In an interview with James Chau Editor-at-Large of China-US Focus, Harvard Professor Joseph Nye likens the current state of the U.S.-China relationship as a “cooperative rivalry.” He says that there are going to be elements of rivalry— take for example, issues like the South China Sea, but there are going to be areas of cooperation, areas like climate change. “We have to learn to realize that the relationship is going to be complex, but if we lose sight of the cooperative part of the relationship, we're all going to be the worse off for it,” he says. Nye also dismisses the assertion that China is a existential threat to the United States. “I think in the long run, the US and China do not present existential threats to each other. Neither of us is trying to destroy the other. And that means that the rivalry is something we can manage.”

  • Mar 06, 2019

    Deterrence will not be enough.

  • Feb 12, 2019

    Populism has been a feature of democratic politics throughout history, and it waxes and wanes.

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