The Meaning of Sharp Power: How Authoritarian States Project Influence

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Drawing on the forthcoming International Forum for Democratic Studies report From ‘Soft Power’to ‘Sharp Power’: Rising Authoritarian Influence in the Democratic World (December 2017), NED’s Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig discuss how Russia and China’s authoritarian forms of overseas influence activities prompt a revisiting of “soft power” in an article published by Foreign Affairs. 

The democracies’ complacency concerning the evolution of malign, sharp power has been informed by their reliance on the soft power paradigm. The conceptual vocabulary that has been used since the Cold War’s end no longer seems adequate to the contemporary situation.