Blame the Power


Kevin Drum follows up on the “soft power” issue:

I’ve heard “smart power” bandied about, but I doubt that will catch on. Too jargony. “Non-military power” gets to the nub of things, but doesn’t roll off the tongue very well. So what’s a good alternative word that basically means “mostly non-military”? Anybody care to chime in?

I think the problem is more with the “soft” than with the “power.” The idea is that soft power is attractive rather than coercive, and “power” has such heavy connotations of coercion that you wind up needing to bend over backwards to dispel those connotations with something like “soft.” But what Joseph Nye is talking about when he writes about soft power is something more like brand appeal than a form of “power.”