Understanding political power

Writer Walter Mead says power comes in four sorts:

1. The sharp power of military force serves as a foundation

2. The sticky power of economic vitality rewards others for joining the system and makes it expensive to pull out

3. The sweet power of values attracts and inspires others

4. The hegemonic power or primacy, where primacy is to geopolitics what a full card is to a game of bingo. It makes states attractive. Their support is considered a form of consent, giving legitimacy to actions. 

From The Economist’s November 2013 special report on America. The report argues that a combination of these four puts America at the top of the world for now and for some decades to come. The country benefits from a system of the world it created after the second world war.

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