There are several theories about the concept of power, however most of them tend to agree that power comes in two forms: soft power and hard power. You might imagine the obvious definition of hard power. It is very simply the size of your guns and your wallet. A rich country with a highly capable military could be said to be high in hard power. Hard power is usually used as an act of intimidation and is looked at as something from the past generations. They claim that nations of today’s civilized world engage in diplomatic negotiations with other countries for protecting their interests and avoiding costly wars. International negotiations using diplomacy quite often leads to successful results in avoiding conflicts and wars, however, these negotiations break down at times, which eventually leads to conflicts.
Some scholars argue that soft power appears attractive on paper, but its dependence on persuasion and encouragement makes it largely insignificant, in a world of geopolitics, whereas hard power dictates reality and course of events. Let us look closely at this argument to see how it applies to our modern world. If we examine the elements of hard power, we find out that it consists of, but not limited to physical items such as geographical location of a nation, its natural resources and military power. These elements remained constant throughout the years, whether in ancient civilizations, or in the modern era. For example, a country’s geographical location determines its climate, soil and topography, all of which of course, determine what food sources can be grown in that region, and eventually contributes to determining its economic strength. It also determines its strategic location among other nations of the world.
As for the Soft Power, it is essentially related to how attractive a nation appears to be. It also relates to how much other nations trust you, and how much they are willing to listen to you. A nation which spreads aspects of its culture, and is considered to have laws and regulations, as well as society worth replicating or learning from, could be referred to as a nation high in soft power. Soft power is not limited only to countries with laws and regulations, but also includes other aspects such as education, technological advances, economical gains.
For example, Iran is about to become a nuclear power with a very powerful military. We can say that it has an advanced level of hard power but on the world stage, its soft power is at a minimum. Switzerland on the other hand has virtually very low level of hard power, however, the nation has an outstanding status on the world arena, for doing the right things internationally, and therefore, it has an advanced level of soft power. Some argue that such status of high soft power provides Switzerland an amazing amount of influence throughout the world. But does this truly applies to our modern world, where the laws of jungle rule?
In addition, different times encompass different approaches and ends with different results. Gulf countries used their dominant position in oil production to wield power over the world for at least a decade. Pakistan used its geopolitical location between the Arabian Sea and Afghanistan to become a strategic ally of the western powers. Britain used its geographical position as an island to serve as a staging post for the attack on Germany in the World War II and so on.
International relations purely depend on interests, while all other variables become insignificant. Nothing is permanent except what a nation is able to offer the other and what is expected in return. Today’s friend might be tomorrow’s enemy and vice versa. Lets us be realistic! Hard power will possibly remains as the determining factor of events, whether in the present or in the future