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Coercive Power Essay

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Coercive Power Public Administration November 7, 2012 Coercive Power is that which is enforced by creating fear among subordinates. This source of power is no longer regularly used in the United States; however it does have quite a history. A prime example in recent American History of coercive power is the U. S. invasion of Grenada. I will discuss various forms of power including the use of threats and actual physical force. There are also a number of limitations along with costs associated with this source of power.

Physical source as a form of coercive power has a long history here in the United States as well as many other countries abroad. The Holocaust and the effects of Nazi Germany would be a historic example of coercive power; Jewish individuals were threatened into abiding by the Nazis and if they disobeyed they were generally killed on the spot, many were murdered for no reason at all. Another example would be the enforcement of Jim Crow laws in the 19th and 20th centuries. During this time white southerners had almost complete control over the blacks by means of threatening and following through with extreme violence.

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Louis Kriesberg is known to have said “Coercion involves trying to make the other side yield by reason of fear or actual force. ” Over the past several decades the use of coercive power has tempered off in the United States, with the exception of prison security, law enforcement and military forces. The use of coercive power by the military is widely accepted by U. S. citizens as a resource in defending our country against domestic and foreign attacks. An example of this would be the U. S. nvasion of Grenada in October 1983 (named “Operation Urgent Fury”). The President at that time was Ronald Reagan and he received information that an airstrip was being built by Cuban Construction workers in Grenada. He was concerned that the airstrip may be used as a refueling station for Cuban and Soviet forces that were delivering weapons and supplies to Central American insurgents. There were close to a thousand American medical students working in Grenada at the time and Reagan threatened the island to stop their actions or the U.

S. would launch an attack. Grenada did not head the presidents warning and was invaded by United Stated immediately. Within 2 months American military forces were headed home and Grenada was in the process of forming a democratic society. The use of coercive power is outdated with the exception of law enforcement and military forces. This source of power has been limited in recent decades as individuals may feel so strongly about something that they simply will not be deterred by violence or threat of violence.

In countries all around the world, individuals feel that their needs can’t and won’t be suppressed and have more frequently been standing up for themselves and for others. If people feel they are being violated the majority will get angered and retaliate. The enforcers will face a backlash. Many costs are associated with the use of coercive power, the most prominent being those costs associated with military forces. The actual financial cost of funding a war is massive, this includes paying troops, housing and purchasing and maintaining weapons and rebuilding areas that may have been destroyed in an attack.

The most devastating cost would be the lives lost by soldiers and innocent civilians. Although we are in the 21st century, coercive power is still used as a form of control among various level superiors. It is not widely accepted here in the United States. There are exceptions including law enforcement and military forces. The limits and costs associated with this source of power are profound including actual funding and loss of life. More often People will stand up for what they believe in regardless of the consequence.

Here in the United States citizens will be more lenient with the use of coercive power as a necessary tactic in ensuring that our country is protected against attacks. References: Cropf, R. (2008). Public Administration: Public Service in the 21st Century. Pearson Education Inc. Invasion of Grenada. (n. d. ). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Invasion_of_Grenada The U. S. Invasion of Grenada. (n. d. ). United States American History. Retrieved from http://www. u-s-history. com/pages/h2047. html