Executive Intelligence Review


’Sharp Power’ Is NED Creation for New Cold War

Jan. 22, 2018 (EIRNS)—"Sharp Power," the geopolitical neologism now being bandied about by the likes of Republican Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) against Russia and China, finds its roots in the bowels of the geopolitical thinktank, the National Endowment for Democracy. On Dec. 6, 2017, the NED held a day-long seminar, "Sharp Power, Rising Authoritarian Influence," which defined the parameters of the thought-object for a new generation. Earlier postings by the group indicate that the imperialists had been thinking along these lines since at least September of last year.

Until recently, during a previous Cold War, conflict between the superpowers had been characterized as either "hard," meaning military, or "soft," meaning cultural or academic efforts of subversion. Finding those descriptions too limited for today’s situation, the term "sharp" power was settled on—in their words, literally as a "catch-all term" for any form of influence which is not otherwise classifiable as hard or soft. As described in the conference literature,

"authoritarian influence efforts in young and vulnerable democracies are sharp in the sense that they pierce, penetrate, or perforate the information and political environments in the targeted countries."

By this description, then, Russia’s efforts at manipulation through media sources such as RT (or alleged Presidential election-rigging) are just as "sharp" as China’s efforts to raise the poor out of poverty, increase productivity by infrastructure construction, or improve living standards for the entire planet. From an article, "The Meaning of Sharp Power: How Authoritarian States Project Influence," by (conference participants) Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig, in Foreign Affairs from Nov. 16, 2017:

"The serious challenge posed by authoritarian sharp power requires a multidimensional response that includes unmasking Chinese and Russian influence efforts that rely in large part on camouflage—disguising state-directed projects as the work of commercial media or grassroots associations, for example, or using local actors as conduits for foreign propaganda and tools of foreign manipulation."