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Disrupt, Coerce, Legitimize, Attract: The Four Dimensions of Russian Smart Power

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Technical Report

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NDU/JFSC Joint Advanced Warfighting School NORFOLK United States

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Russias renewed influence has caused strategic paralysis in the West. The root cause is a failure to understand the true nature of Russian Smart Power, which, as a unique adaption of Joseph Nyes original theory, enables Russian strategists to manipulate their adversariesseemingly at will. Nye defines Smart Power as the intelligent combination of coercive Hard Power with attractive Soft Power. However, Nyes theory fails to explain the mechanics of Russian power and the resultant rise of Russian influence because it does not account for Russian deception and obfuscation. The apparently disconnected and ambiguous nature of the individual elements of Russian Hard and Soft Power complicates the development of an effective strategy. A deconstruction of recent events in Ukraine, Syria, and Turkey analyzes the importance of the interplay between coercion and attraction, which reveals the existence of a unique brand of Russian Smart Power. This paper explains how Russian Smart Power uses deception to disrupt the awareness of its target, create opportunities to apply coercion, and legitimize its attractive Soft Power. The paper makes recommendations to apply Russian Smart Power in reverse to restore the balance and regain the lost strategic initiative.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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