All of America’s Challenges

An Interview with Joseph Nye

From the big infrastructures to the new technologies: the Us plays its challenge for the future on the renewal of its excellences, the great value that has transformed the country into an economic guide for the world. That's what Joseph Nye strongly thinks. In the 80's he coined the term soft power to describe the ability of the leading countries to expand his domination through persuasion and cultural achievement, rather than by force. His latest book, Is the American Century Over?, supports the argument that the world leadership of the United States has not yet faded, but he will remain for decades to come.

Why the United States will continue to be the leading country in the world?

«The US remains the largest economy with the best demographics, energy situation, and technological advantage. If you look at the America economy, 19 trillion dollars economy which it’s been growing at about 2%, it has good demographics meaning it will keep his position as the third ranking country in population even though other countries are beginning to decline demographically. It has diminish its dependence on imported energy and it is in the forefront of the leading technology of the century, namely biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology. Moreover its university structure is ranking 15 of the top 20 universities in the world. So That suggest that the United States will maintained its position».

In some areas, American infrastructures are quite dated and in poor condition. Do you believe that one of the next president challenge is to start a comprehensive plan to rebuilt?

«Infrastructure investment is one of the few areas where the two candidates agree. I would expect investment after the election, because both Clinton and Trump have talk about increasing investments in infrastructures and there is a pretty broad consensus along those lines. Former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers is been advocating for sometimes. I think it’s an important opportunity because infrastructure are so low, and also an improvement of infrastructures fit well with the current monetary situation».

Beijing Financial District
Beijing Financial District
Do you believe that the current threats from China and Russia could seriously dent the American leadership for the years to come?

«Russia is dangerous, but a country in demographic decline and with economic problems. China is rising, but its growth rate will slow and it will not be larger than the US for decades as I explain in my book, Is the American Century Over?. The current narrative is all about the rise of China and the decline of the United States. With the 2008 crisis, people said «this is the begging of the end of the America power». But in fact, this metaphor of decline is always very misleading. In recent history, cycle of belief in American decline come and go every ten or fifteen years: in 1958 with the Sputnik, in 1973 with the oil embargo, in the 80’s with the transition between the Rust Belt economy to the Silicon Valley economy. But in fact what we seen is none of that was true».

How the soft power works in the Us politics today? Do you think that could have a role in the complex relationships with the Asian powers and prevent the expansion of China in the region?

«Recent polls show that the US has more soft power in Asia than China does. One of China’s big problems is that its territorial disputes with its neighbors undercuts its soft power. India, Japan, Vietnam and other countries in Asia want an American insurance policy against the rise of China. It is like Mexico and Canada were hostile neighbors to the United States, and it is not so».

Do you think that Europe an America could finally reach a trade deal and sign the TTIP? Do you think is a good achievement for all?

«I think it will be good if Us and Europe will able to reach a trade agreement which was broadly acceptable to European and to American public opinion, but right now in the aftermath of the referendum in Europe and with the coming elections, I don’t think that the prospect for a pact is very bright at the moment».

Many analysts think that this is the African century. What do you think about this issue?

«Africa will have the largest demographic growth, but whether this proves to be an asset or a liability will depend on investment in human resources and political stability».