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Source: Foreign Affairs, Vol. 77, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct., 1998), pp. 81-94 Published by: Council on Foreign Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20049052 Accessed: 20/11/2009 02:50
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of the Joseph Jr. and Polit Institutions. Modernists and jet travel as creating a global village.Power and Interdependence Information Age in the Robert 0. which has dominated world politics since the feudal age. were of past generations The modernists partly right. Angell's of the impact of war on interdependence was insightful: understanding on the not I wrought World War destruction. Likewise. and Co-Director O.Nye. Nye. Keohane  . THE RESILIENCE OF STATES Throughout the twentieth that technology claiming Norman Angel? declared that economic wars irrational and looked forward to the day when they would become in the 1970s saw telecommunications obsolete. at Duke ical Economy S. Alvin and Heidi Toffler. isDean University. the modernists nongovernmental of is James B. Duke Professor of Political Science of the Program on Democracy. rendered interdependence transnational peaceful years multinational since 1815. unprecedented only battlefield but also on the social and political systems that had thrived during the relatively the 1970s predicted. was being actors such as multinational eclipsed by nonterritorial corporations. Robert century. Keohane and Joseph S. social movements.As corporations. and international organizations. and believed that the territorial state. Jr. such as Peter Drucker. prophets and Esther Dyson argue that today's information revolution is ending hierarchical bureaucracies and leading to a new electronic feudalism with overlapping communities and jurisdictions laying claim to multiple layers of citizens' identities and loyalties. modernists would transform world have been pro In 1910 politics.. at Harvard School of Government Kennedy University.
population to govern not only computer. social. but they often without sufficient analysis that advances in technology and increases a new world in which in social and economic transactions will lead to Twenty states. and accurately interpret today's This is still true for the information age ecological interdependence. the vast majority of the world's people. Keohane and Joseph S. people a in 2005. and oceans policy. organizations more more resilient than immensely significant. of a new cyberworld. in our book Power and Interdependence (1977). Tradition vision by pointing alists are adept at showing flaws in the modernist out how military but find it very difficult continues.NyeyJr.100 million institutions. we years ago. will no longer be important. reaches a billion this number not participate. strategic options available to statesmen. large portion of the world's people will of the world's is far from universal. Like pundits on the too to information revolution.Robert 0. like modernists before them. Three-quarters globalization and much less a modem does not own a telephone. writing now assume to the fundamental changes taking place. Rules will be necessary cyberspace. They failed to analyze how holders of power could wield that power to shape or distort patterns of interdependence that cut across national boundaries. wealthy countries has stayed The modernists of 1910 and the 1970s were right about the direction of change but simplistic about its consequences. intellectual but ensuring lawful users from criminals protecting property public Rules or government rights. and their control over material resources inmost at a third to half of gdp.s . monetary analyzed the politics of such transnational that "modernists point correctly relations. they moved directly from technology the continuity sufficiently considering political consequences without or the of beliefs. Prophets the new world overlaps and rests on the often overlook how much inwhich power depends on geographically based traditional world use the Internet. issues as trade. interdependence to multidimensional economic. and global financial markets have become (ngos). community  FOREIGN AFFAIRS-Volume77No. as some experts predict. require private in the form of authority. But the state has been modernists States continue to command the loyalties of anticipated." everywhere and nowhere. the persistence of institutions. whether or Classic governance. Even if In 1998." inwhich cyberspace is itself a "place. Moreover. and their control of force.
Communications expanding rapidly. can transmit 90. What is new is over distance as a result the virtual erasing of costs of communicating costs have revolution. Now anyone a a computer can be a with and anyone with desktop publisher.Power and Interdependence in the Information Age terms?are as relevant issues of politics?who governs and on what as to the real world. Similarly. early stages of the information one feature of what we That revolution has dramatically changed described inPower and Interdependence as "complex interdependence"? a world are in which less and countries security and force matter connected by multiple social and political relationships. As with steam at the end of the century and eighteenth at the end of the nineteenth. These loosely structured network organizations ngos and networks are states with particularly effective in penetrating out to borders and to force using domestic constituencies regard political leaders to focus on their preferred agendas.000 volumes a thin strand of in today optical fiber a second. lagged Although industries and firms have undergone many rapid structural changes since the 1980s. Earlier flows were heavily controlled transnational by large or the Catholic bureaucracies like multinational corporations remain important. Church. transformation are still in the We revolution. The information revolution FOREIGN AFFAIRS1998 September/October  . infinite. costs continue and communications phone calls over copper wire could carry one page of information per second. The actual transmission of the information that can be hence the amount of information become negligible. Computing is effectively transmitted power has doubled every 18months for the last 30 years. to cyberspace THE EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLUTION is not new. Such organizations but the dramatic transmission of information has opened the field to cheapening and even individuals. As late as 1980. to fall. growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web has been exponential. electricity productivity growth has as to utilize the new society learns technologies. Internet traffic doubles are bandwidths every 100 days. can communicate modem with distant parts of the globe at a trivial cost. the economic is far from complete. It now costs less than one percent Interdependence among societies ofwhat it did in the early 1970s.
S. Scientific produce it. one of our three dimensions of complex interdependence. s 77 . Another is that outside zone the democractic aworld of of states is not of complete complex interdepence is of peace. For structure the political the last four centuries states have established within which information flows across borders. available The quantity of information in cyberspace means between and distinctions little types by itself. power become apparent. the information the context of the itself can be understood revolution only within itself was deliberately of the world economy. When just exist. resulting depression on the basis of multilateral formed institutions. that are sources of three different types of information information. policy and international after the end ofWorld War sought II.NyeyJr. has vastly increased the number of channels of contact between societies.Robert O. _ One reason that the information revolution We are still in the earlv ^as not transf?rmed world politics to a new . which globalization institutions for half a century fostered by U. force still plays a significant role in relations between states. these patterns of interdependence. In the late 1940s the United States to forestall another to create an open international economy international The and contain communism. to create and that actors are willing Free information is information The sender benefits from financial compensation. the information revolution has not made dramatic However. information Motives may vary. security still outranks other issues in foreign policy. Keohane and Joseph S.  FOREIGN AFFAIRS-Volume No. distribute without to and hence has incentives the information the receiver believing is a public good. politics Stages OI tne lniormation revolution. realist assumptions about complex interdependence. in the two other conditions of complex changes interdependence. The quality of information more are Information does not of information important. the world In many areas. Military and in a crunch. Indeed. the dominance of military force and security issues remain valid. put a principles. on markets and deemphasized and information military premium states to turn away from has become It costly for increasingly rivalry. probably one considers the incentives to create it is created. fa^ information does not flow in a vacuum but in political space that is already occupied.
Power and Interdependence but persuasive messages. is often not particularly quantity of such information important. that intellectual property can?assuming can be enormous rights enforced?generates as the demonstrates. more on or on vast Iraq depends having reliable satellites spies than flows of electronic mail. The Tokyo. unbeknown advantage the United States had in to the United States had broken the Japanese codes. Strategic as much The possible?for example. _ to be available on the For such information such as political ones. or about the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea. The explosion most dramatic effect of the information revolution. One enormous only if their competitors World War IIwas that. issues of property rights must be can so that producers of information be compensated by users. Senders neither gain nor lose by others the information. apart from the compensation believing they receive. But it exists in the context an of structure. are more self-serving. and its effects on the flows of existing political different types of information vary vastly. in the quantity of free information is information. Marketing. revolution as much as vice versa. Creating commercial information before one's competitors resolved Politics will miormation as much affect the revolution as vice versa. Free information will flow as faster without information will be protected regulation. not just individuals within bureaucracies. especially for pioneers. history ofMicrosoft The rapid growth of electronic commerce and the increase in global competition will be other important effects of the information revolution. are all and propaganda examples of free Internet. For the strategic information available to the United States example. on actors do not possess it. FOREIGN AFFAIRS- September/October 1998  . as old as confers great advantage espionage. in the Information Age broadcasting. perhaps the to that people are willing Commercial information is information create and send at a price. Strategic information. profits. flow of commercial information will depend on whether property are established in Politics will shape the information rights cyberspace. by encryption technologies. Pakistan. The revolution information alters patterns of complex interde the number of channels of increasing pendence by exponentially inworld politics?between communication individuals in networks.
however. Keohane and Joseph S. when he argues that soft power rests solely on a foundation of hard power. can be divided into hard and soft power. in turn. itmay not need to expend or resources.Nye. For relationship example. POWER THE NATURE OF can be is power.Robert 0. the ability to coax or coerce has long been the central element of power. on the other hand. and that to self-doubt and crises of identity. but what is power? A basic distinction to obtain outcomes you drawn between behavioral power?the ability resource resources that are want?and possession of power?the usually associated with the ability to reach outcomes you want. Behavioral power.s . The Soviet Union had FOREIGN AFFAIRS- Volume77No. but they is correct when he says that scientist Samuel P. the ability of the less or escape the constraints of an vulnerable tomanipulate interdependent at low cost is an important source of power. It works by convincing others to follow or getting them to agree to norms and institutions that produce the desired behavior. Whether or by economic carrots military through threats sticks. It is the to achieve ability goals through attraction rather than coercion. Hard power is the ability to get others to do what they otherwise would not do or rewards. It depends that shape the preferences and institutions on the of the free information that an actor persuasiveness largely in the eyes seeks to transmit. as many military costly traditional economic are not the same. is the ability to get desired out comes because others want what you want. Soft power can rest on the appeal of one's ideas or culture or the ability to set the agenda through standards of others.Jr. economic and military failure lead He iswrong. Sweden. Canada. Knowledge in 1971 theUnited States halted the convertibility of dollars into gold and increased its influence over the international monetary system. In 1973. Soft power. As we pointed out two decades ago. Arab states temporarily gained power from an oil embargo. Huntington a culture and success makes ideology attractive. If a state can make its power legitimate of others and establish international institutions that encourage others to define their interests in compatible ways. wane because the size of the papal have more influence than some other states with and the Netherlands political material equivalent  economic or military capabilities. The soft power of the Vatican did not states diminished. The Hard and soft power are related.
Power and Interdependence considerable soft power in Europe in the Information Age afterWorld War II but squandered even when Soviet economic it by invading Hungary and Czechoslovakia to grow. Some aspects of the information revolution help the small. As it reduces costs. defined. FOREIGN AFFAIRS September/October 1998  . important barriers to entry and economies of scale remain in some information-related aspects of power. In the nineteenth industrial capacity provided the resources century. established considerable economies of scale in content production and distribution. territory. everyone. Soft power varies over time and military power continued and different domains. is likely to be the most important power resource. is also affecting power measured in revolution The information terms of resources rather than behavior. dominates film. resources to the United contributed crucial power States In the next century. First. later. physics and the broadly mid-twentieth THE SMALL VERSUS THE LARGE Th e n ew conventional wisdom is that the information revolution has a of scale. to of that culture are attractive all aspects communications. however. with its libertarian and electronic and egalitarian currents. and barriers leveling effect. To global more often soft power some extent this reflects deliberate policies. America's popular culture. of information and American popular culture has generally increased to American awareness of and openness ideas and values. Not the spread Nonetheless. for example conservative Muslims. Germany By the balance science and particularly nuclear century. population. actors. Large. but is an inadvertent byproduct. For example. There are several reasons. economies it should reduce the power of large states and of entry to markets. to gain dominance. In the eighteenth-century European of power. In enhance the power of small states and nonstate practice. but some help the already large and powerful. international relations are more complex than the technolog ical determinism this view suggests. technology. information Soviet Union. and agriculture was a provided the basis for infantry. television. soft power is strongly affected by the cultural content of movies and television entertainment industries often enjoy programs. and France principal beneficiary. that enabled Britain and.
Fourth. sort. the collection and production of new information often requires In many competitive the newness of situations. and disseminate area. The off-the-shelf commercial costly military and increases add lucrative benefits technologies of large states. military power remains important in some critical domains has some effects relations.Robert 0. In some commercial situations. This dominant that occur over a wide geographic battlespace awareness combined with precision force produces a powerful advantage. about complex events information process. a a lead in the scene and still the application of wide variety of enjoys information technologies. Other to be availability of what used small states and nonstate actors systems however. States like the United information. they include the ability are available in commercial markets. Information the vulnerability trends. and France have capabilities for collecting intelligence that dwarf those of other nations. Britain. driven by the in the 1980s and partly because of large investments was often first on the United States Cold War military competition. refer to a the already powerful. irrelevant unless such as tanks or planes become weapons platforms to integrate information with those weapons. assessments of of balances traditional As the Gulf War showed. direct broadcasting. costly investments. are often the creators of the standards and first movers Third. Keohane The dominant American market and Joseph S. s 77 .NyeyJr. computers. but in terms of power among it is usually better to be first. targets for terrorist groups. Intelligence States. even where it is now cheap to disseminate existing informa tion. The use of the English language and the pattern of top-level domain names on the Internet is a case in point. counts more than the average cost of all at the margin information is a good example. high-speed Space-based technology. of the relevant technologies Many strengthen "revolution  FOREIGN AFFAIRS-Volume No. Partly because of the transformation of the American economy states. Many military analysts inmilitary affairs" caused by the application of information sensors. a fast follower can do better than a first mover. Information of international technology on the use of force that benefit the small and some that favor the pow erful. and complex software provide the ability to gather. share in films and television programs inworld markets is therefore likely to continue. Second. transfer. architecture of information systems.
Moreover. In this dimension. in trade. Under what is both correct and important. Brand bestow an international seal of approval will But power does not necessarily flow to some circumstances information. one must first understand the paradox of plenty. A plenitude to a poverty of attention. but instead makes them unable to sell good used cars for their real value. Hence the superior willing adjust information of sellers does not improve the average price they receive. among editors and cue-givers. the information revolution has not greatly decentralized states. For instance. to the of some expectations edge makes all the difference. economists out that sellers of used cars know more about their defects than point owners of bad cars are more to sell likely potential buyers. equalized power among THE POLITICS OF CREDIBILITY What and the power of reducing the role of governments all states? Here the changes are more likely to be along the lines the to understand the effect of free information modernists predicted. a small In information warfare. The key. and those who can distinguish valuable signals from white noise gain power. If anything. and asymmetrical credibility is key means a lishing credibility developing reputation for providing correct even when it may reflect badly on the information information. Contrary or theorists. owners of ones. credibility a source of power. and cue-givers become more in demand. Attention becomes the of information leads about scarce resource. is the crucial Hence. Editors. the systems. information power flows to those who can edit and credibly validate information to sort out imperfect market for evaluators. There will be and the ability to become more important.Power and Interdependence and weaker in the Information Age have many of them. it has had the opposite effect. FOREIGN AFFAIRSSeptember/October 1998  an names . those who can withhold can information private cripple the credibility of those who have it. will not be possession of fancy but the ability to integrate a system of United States is likely to keep its lead. where power goes to Unlike asymmetrical interdependence those who can afford to hold back or break trade ties. hardware or advanced systems states can be expected to however. But on power. and this is a source of power. filters. Thus than potential buyers discount the price they good are to pay to for unknown defects. interpreters. Estab resource.
Propaganda in the 1930s. Hard power maybe to take over a radio station?to as a form of free information necessary?for soft generate not new. resources. a own country. Political struggles focus less on ability than over the creation control over the ability to transmit information of credibility. has earned in Baghdad. The low to transmit it ismuch less important than it used to be. as long as the United order to be persuasive. Slobodan Milosevic's and Stalin used it effectively was crucial to his power in Serbia. Three types of state action illustrate the value of credibility. Hitler is power.5 . state-controlled radio stations for credibility. Much of the traditional conduct of foreign policy occurs through the exchange as are credible. while in and Havana have not. world politics. Finally. a battle for power was fought at a tv station. but the ability to filter information ismore so. Keohane and Joseph S.NyeyJr. InMoscow control of television in 1993. President Clinton to the Chinese?and in answer to a question at preach human rights could frankly about American shortcomings. and it has become even more important because of the cost of transmitting data means that the paradox of plenty.Robert 0. whose promises are less credible. which only insofar they that can credibly assure potential partners that Hence. But in June 1998. In Rwanda. The bbc. can be valuable of promises. a credible advocate of it could not be racial segregation condoned could universal human rights. Beijing University to to make further progress States needed admit that the United realize One its ideal of equality. During the United States was a more credible ally for Western European the United countries than the Soviet Union because as a democracy States could more credibly promise not to seek to exploit or dominate at to borrow from its allies. for example. of the abundance implication of material using force of free information sources and the role of credibility is that soft power is likely to become less a function instance. the exercise of soft power requires credibility States For instance. Second. radio stations encouraged Hutu-controlled genocide. Reputation has always mattered Beijing. for providers reputation example. governments over not act competitors they will opportunistically will gain advantages the Cold War. capital markets competitive about one's financial interests rates requires credible information and destruction in situation. The power of  FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume77No.
radio stations. to narrow the shift from broadcasting However. some Somalia respond to foreign conflicts rather than others?say rather than southern Sudan. Not have governments surprisingly. can also lead to soft power. The by multiple _ issue is not only which actors own television networks. with actors who cannot control one another by force. or web once a sites? who In sources exist?but plethora of such to which of fountains pays attention The shift from broad to narrowcast Casting information and misinformation. ?npucations. but helps coordinate action send messages from the rain forests AFFAIRS of Brazil or the sweatshops  of more FOREIGN 1998 September/October . sites have been used to reach many people with the broadcasting same message. cnn was based inAtlanta rather than or Cairo because of America's Amman leading position in the indus try and technology. . When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Even the Internet not only focuses attention across borders. at low cost Interactivity allows for the development of new virtual communities: people as part of a who imagine themselves of how single group regardless far apart they are physically from one another. to television and radio stations and have met manipulate sought since a relatively with considerable small number of success.Power and Interdependence in the Information Age by the supplemented persists but will be increasingly broadcasting controlled its multiple channels of communication Internet. Cable and the television casting has major political implications. the fact that cnn was an American company helped to frame the issue. . Advocacy opportunities technologies networks' potential impact is vastly expanded by the information since the fax machine and the Internet enable them to revolution. Had as a TV channel. important politically. attempt ing has major political is a type of free information that has long had an Broadcasting on on certain conflicts and impact By focusing public opinion. Internet enable senders to segment and target audiences.. worldwide. For inwealth stance. create new These for ngos. to human broadcasters have pressed politicians rights problems. justified perhaps the issue would have been framed to reverse colonial humiliation. the case of worldwide television. an Arab company been the world's as dominant aggression.
imposed large costs on organizations working with like Canada. in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate developed procedures and careful peer review of scientific papers for extensive Change summaries. and Joseph S. for instance. By creating ing coalitions can But to the basis for effective cooperation. procedural  FOREIGN AFFAIRSVolume77No. they provide is produced this information the procedures be effective. on to capture attention. Keohane Southeast Asia. but Greenpeace drilling rig in the North it later had to admit the inaccuracy of some of its when . Atmospheric itself lost Sea. ognized a process in accordance that is mation must be produced through norms and characterized and with by transparency professional fairness. The role of ngos was also an important channel political across in the global warming of communication dis delegations at in December cussions 1997.). the significance to transnational networks of like increasing importance giving is important. and put pressure leaders. basing their arguments scientists. issues where knowledge minded experts.s credibility claims. Environmental groups and Kyoto in Kyoto for the attention of the media from industry competed in part on the findings of major countries. By framing actors in form communities become such professional important know and in bargaining processes.Robert O. Conference resulted from the activities recent Landmine The a coalition of network of governments middle-power like Senator Patrick Leahy and celebrities like Princess (D-Vt. set the Diana agenda. is increasingly information Scientific information as in part the infor To be credible. is of credibility As the ipcc example shows. ledge. socially constructed. Greenpeace. individual politicians Royal Dutch Brentspar Shell by criticizing its planned disposal of its findings about climate change have not just from the prestige of science but from the gained credibility. The ipcc is and intergovernmental vetting of executive an an institution whose major information-legitimating example of to masses of scientific to give coherence and credibility function is scientists' about climate change. works is fragile.NyeyJr. by which rec must appear unbiased. nongovernmental for a flowering of issue advocacy There are substantial opportunities but the credibility of these net networks and virtual communities.
maintaining reason that closed systems have become more Another costly is that it is risky for foreigners to invest funds in a country where the key are made in an opaque fashion. No longer will governments that want undermines high levels of development be able to afford the luxury of keeping their financial and political situations a secret. investment communities globally competitive Geographical want rapid still matter most. information. which once seemed so valuable to authoritarian to attract and transparency the credibility necessary on terms. Thus Singapore iswrestling competing with the dilemma of reshaping its educational system to encourage the individual creativity that the information economy will demand while social controls over the flow of information. But as societies like Singapore reach higher levels of development where more citizens want fewer restrictions on access to the Internet. As Adam Smith would have information the value recognized. are. of information increases when the costs of transmitting it decline. the FOREIGN AFFAIRS September/October 1998  . Governments such as China s can still limit their citizens' access to the Internet service providers and monitoring by controlling the relatively small number of users. have more trouble. is becoming decisions Transparency a asset for countries key seeking investments. Politically. Singapore has thus far been able to reconcile its political controls with an increasing role for the Inter net. Singapore runs the risk of are its resource for losing the people who key in the information economy. the information revolution has vastly increased the marketability and value of commercial information by costs of transmission and the transaction costs of charging reducing users. Authoritarian states. increasing demand by giving itsmakers a larger market. They can shape information because they can also take it. The ability to hoard states. From a business standpoint. and their institutions of governance not threatened by it. typically among the laggards. Their but the are of information. however. just as the value of a good increases when transportation costs fall. This societies are familiar with is no accident.Power and Interdependence THE DEMOCRATIC in the Information Age ADVANTAGE Not all many free exchange are leaders in the information democracies revolution. but governments that will development have to give up some of the barriers to information flows that protected officials from outside scrutiny.
Nongovernmental actors have much greater opportunities to organize and propagate their views. Yet states are resilient. NGOS and states can more readily influence the beliefs If one actor can persuade others to of people in other jurisdictions. They will therefore be able to wield soft power to achieve many of their objectives. If governments advantage of the free information information credibility to establish reputations revolution. arewell some countries. for Cheap flows of information have enormously expanded the number and depth of transnational channels of contact. their institutions will be attractive and their pronouncements be credible.Robert 0. if sufficiently persuasive. but they will rely less on material resources and more on their ability to remain credible sources of information.? to a public with increasingly diverse  FOREIGN AFFAIRS-Volume77No. Keohane most and Joseph S.s . a As a result. The future lies neither exclusively with the state nor with transnational relations: geographically based states will continue to structure politics in an information age. Soft power and strategic information may become of can. it possesses hard power and adopt similar values and policies. they will have amid the white noise of the information revolution. whether less important. The ability to free information in disseminate increases the potential for persuasion world politics. political leaders will find it more difficult to maintain coherent ordering of foreign policy issues. States are more easily penetrated and less like black boxes. change perceptions self-interest and thereby alter how hard power and strategic infor or ngos are to take mation are used. Although placed of government policies may diminish in these pluralistic and penetrated will states. and ones with democratic societies.NyeyJr important shift has concerned free information. especially large to benefit from an information the coherence society.
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