Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is the University Distinguished Service Professor and Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard University. He served as dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1995 to 2004. Nye first developed the concept of “soft power” in his 1990 book Bound to Lead, arguing that America was on the rise because of its status as the strongest nation, not only in the standard categories of military and economic might, but also in another category that considered “the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.” He has updated the concept in subsequent books, most recently in Soft Power, discussing its relevance to the Iraq War. The concept of “soft power” is now used frequently by academics, public officials, and journalists, who cite the importance of using “attraction” rather than the carrots and sticks of payment or coercion in diplomacy. In 2008, a poll of 1700 international relations scholars listed him as one of the six most influential in the past twenty years and the most influential on American foreign policy.
Nye’s books include Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Nuclear Ethics, The Powers to Lead, The Paradox of American Power, Power in the Global Information Age, and Understanding International Conflicts.
In addition to his scholarly achievements, Nye has excelled in public service as well. From 1977 to 1979, he served as the Deputy to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, for which he received the department’s Distinguished Honor Award. From 1993 to 1994, he was chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates intelligence estimates for the president, and was awarded the Distinguished Honor Award. And from 1994 to 1995, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in which he constructed a new institutionalized relationship between United States and Japan and where he also won the Distinguished Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster.