In world politics, the “power” category becomes significant in the context of the effectiveness of international influences that have ambiguous consequences for this branch of politics as a whole. On the one hand, these influences provide political interconnections and mutual influence regarding the relations of the states, promote the democratization of political systems, and present numerous opportunities for achieving political advantages. On the other hand, they form new types of asymmetry in the modern world and stimulate the use of “soft” influence on political, economic, social, and cultural spheres of interaction between the countries. The phenomenon of “hard” and “soft power” occupies a special place in the conceptual development, the purpose of which is to provide the “balance of power” in the world due to contradictions existing on the current stage of international development. Today, they have reached such level of acuity that they are able to threaten the order of civilization and the peace on the planet. When it comes to the effectiveness of both strategies, it can be stated that “hard power” is more effective in relation to international processes, since its main components are the military and economic factors that dominate modern international relations.
First of all, at the present stage of development of the international system and the relations between states, military force is often identified through the notion of “hard power”. In a time of globalization, military power changes its characteristics and properties, but its key parameters remain consistent. Military force should primarily include a set of organizational, political, economic, scientific, technical, informational, ideological, and financial features in order to increase the military power of the state and to remain at a high level in case of its achievement. These are the key parameters that the state must follow to equip itself with the adequate military resources to meet the standards of the modern state and to have the prestigious indicators as a subject of international relations. At the same time, apart from military resources, the content of this category also envisages the economic power of the state. A scientific and theoretical approach in the research of modern scholars is an important factor for understanding the relations between the categories of military force and “hard power”. In particular, according to Kaufman, an expert on the national strategy of the United States, military power is the main indicator of the strength and prestige of the state under all conditions, and it is an integral part of conducting certain political courses on the world stage. A prominent American diplomat H. Kissinger defined the notion of the term in a rather capacious, meaningful, and succinct way, through the postulate “power is influence”. The founder of the theory of political realism, G. Morgenthau, in turn, insisted on the assertion that the power “is force over the minds and actions of people, a kind of instrument for light regulation.” However, most experts agree that the strength is the ability of the government of one state to force the government of another one to do something that it would not do on its own accord, and the goal can be achieved by persuasion, coercion, or outright use of military force. Thus, the strength outlines the ability of the state to use its real or potential resources in a way aimed to influence the lifestyle and behavior of other states. At the same time, such a capacity is connected to the quality and quantity of resources allocated to achieve certain political goals in world politics, which in turn are determined by the state of the national economy. Thus, despite a broad understanding of the options for the conceptual interpretation of “power”, scientists converge in the understanding and perception of military force as one of the components and an important instrument for securing the national interests of a particular state on the world stage through extreme manifestation of influence.
In this context, the author of the concept of “hard” and “soft power”, a well-known American researcher J. Nye, understands the term “hard power” as “the possibility of using the principle of whip and stick, which is confirmed by the military and economic power of the state, in order to force certain countries to follow the wishes and requirements of other states.” “Hard power” has also been interpreted as the ability of some states to force other countries to act in a certain way, despite their own national interests. It is also represented as the political and economic ability of a certain state to use military power (land forces, naval forces, high-precision ammunition) to meet their own national interests.
Naturally, the implementation of the external and internal political courses of the state requires appropriate resources and sources of formation. The concept of “hard power” in this sense is no exception as it also requires the provision of adequate resources and the availability of sustainable financial and economic sources. In particular, J. Nay identifies two key sources of “hard power” – a sense of threat that can be achieved through threats and intimidation (relevant rigorous UN Security Council resolutions, public declarations by the heads of the state, demonstration of force, conducting military exercises alongside conflict region, etc.), and practical motivation, the main instrument of which is material remuneration (generous funding of humanitarian and educational programs, powerful investment projects, the provision of cheap loans, etc.). The main resource for the implementation of “hard power” by the state is its economic and military potential. Moreover, economic power is an integral part of it, as not having the appropriate economic basis, the country is practically unable to create a powerful military arsenal without any help while remaining a full-fledged independent player on the political arena of the world. Therefore, hard power is a complex combination of effective levers of economic and military pressure united in order to achieve the pragmatic goals of national interests through the harassment and limitation of other subjects of international relations, realized through political or, in the worst-case scenario, military methods.
In the recent history of the world, no other state has stated its concern for peace while using military force in a foreign policy as often as the United States of America. According to American political experts, the use of “hard power” by the United States to achieve foreign policy goals in certain historical segments is justified and effective. There is a belief that “hard power” acts as the sole and ultimate means of resolving the United States’ external problems due to the limited experience of military operations and the absence of hostilities in the United States. The lack of serious consequences of any of the wars in which the White House participated has made the American society view “hard power” as an attractive tool of foreign policy, especially when the victory seems easy and its price is relatively low.
Since the time of the new history, the United States has gained a wealth of experience in using military force, which has substantially expanded at its recent stage of development. The most significant and world-famous military events of the United States include the following military operations: the American-Mexican wars of 1845-1848 and 1916, the American Cuban confrontation in 1898, the US-Vietnamese conflict in 1961-1973, the US-Iraqi wars of the 1990s, 1991, and 2003, and the US military contingent operation in Afghanistan in 2001. Analyzing the armed conflicts of recent decades, military experts note the use of short-term, fleeting operations – in particular, by “punching” and preventing the blows requiring additional financial costs and significant human resources in using modern methods in the conduct of hostilities by the United States. Despite the expressed critical attitude of the American society toward the use of military force, almost every president of the United States of the second half of the twentieth century publicly spoke in favor of the “hard power” factor as a determining one regarding the state’s influence on the world scene. In particular, G. Truman used the term “military nation” in the context of “American world leadership”. D. Eisenhower called the United States’ military security as the first priority in its policy. J. Carter defined “military power” as the cornerstone of national security of his country while R. Reagan considered the essence of American life as peace through force. B. Clinton saw sufficient military strength as a guarantee of maintaining the United States’ aspirations for leadership. J. Bush, Jr. spoke about the no-alternative survival of the military strength of America on a global scale. B. Obama spoke about the forced fate of the United States to keep carrying out the universal role of the sheriff not on its own accord, and even today, the current president D. Trump relies on economic and military strength in the fight against North Korea as the number one tactic in the context of global security.
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Thus, the large-scale military presence of the United States outside the country after the Second World War has become global, especially during the Cold War, continuing to grow steadily these days. Despite the change in the architecture of the international relations system at the end of the 20th and early 21th centuries, “hard power” remains the dominant tool in a wide range of levers of American foreign policies. Military intervention, the use of force, and the threat of use of force are only some of the components of the list of the United States’ inalienable foreign policy instruments in the second half of the 20th century. After the end of the Cold War, the White House has started to rely on the comprehensive use of diverse elements of military force abroad, such as the implementation of humanitarian intervention and the application of the principle of the task of unilateral military strikes to advance and utilize the preventive blows approach. Humanitarian intervention is realized through the use of military force against other states in order to stop the practice of violating human rights or to create favorable conditions for their implementation.
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The modern military theory and practice of the United States distinguishes between two types of attacks – preemptive and preventive. The Wartime Dictionary of the United States Department of Defense provides the following definitions of these concepts: preemptive attack is a blow that occurs based on the undeniable evidence that a hostile attack is inevitable, while preventive war is a war that begins with the assurance that a military conflict is inevitable in the long run, and delay is associated with even greater risk. Therefore, in the United States expert and administrative circles, there was a firm conviction that there would be no alternative to using a wide range of different elements of “hard power” as an effective foreign policy tool that would reliably secure the United States’ global leadership.
In the 21st century, the White House and the Pentagon have made a great contribution to large-scale scientific developments with the use of state-of-the-art technologies in the military, for the purpose of creating so-called ultra-hunting weapons and the production of appropriate combat designs. As the recent experience of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown, today the United States can conduct effective preemptive and preventive attacks anywhere in the world, making maximum use of the latest scientific developments and advanced technical achievements, thus preserving human resources by limiting them as much as possible. Today, having almost no alternative, possessing unquestionable preference in the development of military technology, and thus having obtained an effective opportunity for a sufficiently safe and resource-intensive use of “hard power” in solving foreign policy tasks, the United States is likely to continue to remain military superior for protecting national interests and solving the issues of international politics.
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In the near future, there is no real threat of a world-wide large-scale armed confrontation between the large states. At the same time, there is a steady tendency of inexorable growth with each passing year regarding the number of regional conflicts and local threats and challenges in the context of the United States national security and world stability. An example of this is the aggression of North Korea and its likely use of weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the current situation on the international scene demonstrates the justification of the deliberate and adequate use of elements of “hard power” and the use of high-tech weapons. The feature of modern “small wars” is their difference from the former full-scale conflicts, namely based on the absence of the goal of total destruction of the economy and the complete destruction of the army of the opposing belligerent side. Instead, the task of the “small wars” is the complete disarming of the forces of the opponent and a controlled change in their state regime. Military operations of the United States’ armed forces in Afghanistan seeking to end the Taliban rule, and in Iraq aiming to overthrow the regime of S. Hussein, can be assumed to be the prototype of future “small wars” where high-tech, precise weapons are used.
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The tactic of military operations tested by the United States in the Middle East allows paralyzing the military infrastructure of the enemy without causing significant damage to the population and civil society, in particular to its economic and social spheres. The 2003 anti-Iraqi operation became the textbook example of America’s effective use of force in the foreign policy of the “hard power”. After the powerful shock that the American society suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the administration of George W. Bush, in the context of the fight against international terrorism, began to actively implement the “axis of evil” suppression project, which included mostly Middle Eastern states through the religious nature of global contradictions. The White House included primarily Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, as well as the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and Iran, where there were despotic and aggressive power regimes that needed democratization to the “axis of evil”.
The policy of combating global terrorism had its logical and conceptual continuation in the speech of President George W. Bush Jr., pronounced on February 4, 2004, in the United Kingdom. The United States’ leader had presented a new model of democracy development in the Middle East entitled “A Strategy for the Promotion of Democracy in the Middle East”, which was based on two key postulates. The first one justified the expediency of the United States with the historical experience of the 20th century, when the world community succeeded in implementing two phased democratization waves – first in post-war Germany and Japan, and a few decades later – in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries. On the basis of this, it was concluded that the next wave of democratization under the leadership of the United States should be conducted in the Middle East. The second postulate was that the democratic reforms in the Middle East, including Gulf countries, should be regarded as a universal means that would destroy socio-economic and socio-political roots of extremism and terrorism in the world.
Unlike that of his predecessors, B.Obama’s foreign policy strategy was guided by the principles of “smart power”, using an effective balanced combination of “hard” and “soft power” elements. At the same time, the United States’ President did not pragmatically exclude the possibility of the widespread use of “hard power” in the event of a real threat to the national interests or security of America. According to Obama’s latest strategy, the United States could simultaneously conduct one full-scale military operation anywhere in the world while simultaneously controlling and assisting in another conflict situation. In particular, in march 2013, the head of the White House claimed that Washington was prepared to launch a military operation against Iran, with the main objective to prevent and effectively counter Tehran’s nuclear weapons production. Obama’s choice and transition in the United States’ foreign policy toward the concept of “smart power” is dictated by America’s leaders’ striving to remain pragmatic and effective in protecting national interests in the region, with minimal resource spending and financial infusions. Consequently, even in the current foreign policy of the United States, “hard power” is an important element used in relation to international problems.
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With the help of “hard power”, the United States can succeed in solving many challenges in terms of military-defense policy and foreign policy influence. It allows the country to securely consolidate and expand the sphere of its military and military-technical cooperation with the states of other regions (including training of military personnel, development of new equipment in combination with a full range of services for maintenance, repair and modernization, as well as guaranteed spare parts, simulators, ammunition supplies, etc.). In the context of the protracted global financial crisis, it is also important to secure stable international contracts and orders from the United States’ defense industry, further creating thousands of new jobs for American citizens. The strategy also allows the country to limit the probability of occurrence of conflicts and to protect itself against possible external threats. The United States has rich strategic reserves of oil and gas, the uninterrupted flow of which ensures the stability of the functioning and development of the country’s economies and those of its western partners. Within the framework of regional initiatives, “hard power” allows the creation of a so-called “security belt” in the territory of the Gulf States (Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Iraq) at the expense of solvent actors. It forms a combined anti-aircraft defense system of these Gulf States, which must effectively detect and destroy missile warheads in the event of attacks by third states on targets that are in the area of air defense, thus mitigating the consequences of a possible armed conflict with Iran in the long run.
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Consequently, in the modern format of international relations, “hard power” does not lose its significance in a world where individual states are making extraordinary efforts to secure their independence while others express the desire and aspiration of global influence and hegemony on the political map of the world.
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