hard power

Chinese leaders are obsessed with their nation's rise, and see it reclaiming its historic position as a dominant world power. Many Chinese strategists also believe the U.S. is in decline. But their opinion splits on what this means.

China has flexed its muscle economically to become the best of the rest and is destined to surpass America...Economic vitality is critical because there seems to be a direct correlation between material primacy and ideological dominance, and despite America's preeminent military status, its global influence has waned.

China's mixed human rights record is not just bad for its citizens. It is a strategic weakness that complicates its foreign relations and diminishes its soft power. The state's harsh treatment of individuals and minorities regularly disrupts its bilateral relationships.

Chinese leaders spend considerable time and energy in assuring the international community that they have no reason to be afraid of China’s “peaceful rise”... Many countries, however, equate China’s growing economic might with greater political influence and are less accepting of the benign image that Beijing now wants to portray to the world.

China’s rapid growth and expanding influence in the International community has generated heated debates as to whether it has achieved ‘great power’ status. Whereas the Chinese are content with ‘emerging power’ status, its unprecedented growth and influence in the International community depict a nation that has taken charge.

While President George W. Bush openly declared his intention of confronting by force some several dozen nations who were considered hostile, President Barack Obama promised a different approach of using American soft power to re-write international relations and earn the goodwill of the World to the United States. However, he has used both soft power and hard power to attain the same objectives.

What it does mean is that European nations will have to break their decades-old dependence on the United States for taking care of their defense, providing the strategic thinking for them and keeping Europe’s own backyard — the Balkans — stable.

As long as the U.S. military is the point-man for American involvement in Afghanistan, however, it is the use of hard power — force — that will capture public attention. The predominant effort, if we are to be at all present in that foreign country, should consist even more of soft power missions than it already does.