Sharp Power the New Technology of Influence in a Global World

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-2-21-28

O. Leonova (,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, build. 13/14, 1, Leninskie gory, Moscow 119992, Russian Federation

Abstract. The “sharp power” is a new phenomenon of gaining influence in international politics in the era when information has become a weapon, a combination of information influence operations and methods of cyber-terrorism. J. Nye regards the “sharp power” as usage of falsified information for hostile purposes. It encompasses manipulation of information, formation of falsified content of the information flow, conduct of information operations and implementation of information projects. By diverting the audience’s attention and using manipulation technologies the “sharp power” promotes certain values, ideas and phobias to the outside world. Its purpose is interference in domestic political processes of the targeted country, violation of its stability and threatening its national security by influencing public consciousness and behavior of people. The subjects of the “sharp power” do not seek to “win hearts and minds” as those of the “soft power” do, but try to penetrate into and subjugate the political and media spheres of other countries by conducting information operations. The “sharp power” technologies include hacking into personal e-mail and theft of electronic correspondence, falsification of information flow, introduction of malicious software, defacing of websites, destruction of network services and the main computer networks. They are mainly associated with misinformation, fake news and manipulation of information; use the advantages of information openness of cyberspace and are virtually invulnerable – it is difficult to detect them and to identify the mechanism of their action. The “sharp power” has the following quality characteristics: high speed of transactions, their low cost, timing, clear strategy and tactics, flexibility, agility and efficiency. The efficiency factors of the “sharp power” are the openness of cyberspace, camouflage of their purposes, state control and state support of information operations. In conditions when any country can become a victim of the “sharp power”, and its technology represents a threat to the security of the world community, only common efforts of all interested parties and their joint action can tackle the problem and confront cyber threats. The article also reveals the western audience’s perception of the features of “sharp power” in China, Russia and Iran. In conclusion, the author formulates the possible measures and problem solutions. 

Keywords: soft power, smart power, intelligent power, sharp power, influence technologies, information operations, cyberspace, China, Russia, Iran


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For citation:
Leonova O. Sharp Power the New Technology of Influence in a Global World. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 21-28.

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