Power in International Politics: Does the World Go Hard?

Putin Trump

Power in International Politics: Does the World Go Hard?

This is the second in a series of three working papers produced for our Second Annual Conference Student Webinar: '"Conceptual Conversations": Exploring Russian, European & American Understandings of Core Concepts Underpinning Russia-West Relations'. This paper is based on collaborative research undertaken by Viktoriia Ivanchenko, Dmitry Khromakov, Adlan Margoev and Konstantin Sukhoverkhov, all current post-graduates at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) and Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). The University Consortium's Annual Conference was hosted in partnership with the Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center from 5-6 October 2017.

I. Introduction

Increased tensions between Russia and 'the West' have restored parallels with the Cold War times in minds of experts and officials. Russian expert on international relations Fyodor Lukyanov ('Огонёк' Коммерсантъ, 2014) described it as follows: 'The line of a great division ceased to exist a quarter century ago. Anyway, it was believed to be so. And all of a sudden, the line appears to be drawn again. Today, there is no term more popular than ‘Cold War’. Everyone can not help discussing Cold War: it either has resumed, or is about to do that, or has never interrupted.'

This provoked a discussion on the changing ratio between soft and hard instruments of projecting influence in international relations. The Ukrainian crisis, mutual sanctions, and the results of the elections in the United States would suggest that states are gradually coming back to power politics. In this paper we study how the USA, the European Union and Russia view the role of soft power in international relations, the ratio between hard and soft power in their foreign policies, the current situation and challenges in this field.

The study illustrates the differences in perception and use of soft and hard power instruments in the USA, EU and Russia, reflects the theoretical and practical evolution of soft power (both generally and within particular actors) and explains the general trends. With this goal in the study we use researches of American, European, Russian scholars and observers. Challenges of the modern world and reviving confrontation between Russia and the Western countries arose news questions about the future of soft power and nature of foreign policy instruments...

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