Instruments of National Power: How America Earned Independence

  • Commander Jeff Farlin

A nation’s power to impose its will and to achieve its national objectives emanates from its instruments of national power. Today, instruments of national power include diplomacy, information, military, and economy, collectively identified by the acronym DIME. A nation does not necessarily have to be superior in each element of the DIME to achieve its national goals and interests. It does, however, have to be adept in managing each element of national power synergistically in order to achieve its desired results. During the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution (1778-1781), the rebels were outmatched and out-resourced in every conceivable way compared to Great Britain’s global power, yet they still managed to defeat the British. The Americans succeeded by utilizing their instruments of national power more adeptly than the British. The British had an advantage regarding military and economic national powers, but failed to leverage those advantages into a successful campaign against the Americans. This misstep by the British allowed the Americans to protract the war long enough to leverage its advantages of diplomatic and information national powers that ultimately resulted in victory, independence, and the birth of a new nation.