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Distinguishing Credibility

This chapter compares credibility with reputation, prestige, and resolve, and demonstrates why these notions are not interchangeable. Smolnikov defines credibility as authenticity of image desired by the self and transcended to the minds of others, and underscores that whereas prestige denotes a top ranking of recognized social power, credibility functions as the latter’s transcendental mediator, without which neither attainment nor enjoyment of prestige is possible. He emphasizes a major power’s need for sustainable reputational credibility, and conceives others’ firm belief in her ability to deter peers from unleashing a hegemonic war as well as in her statecraft’s resolve to wage such a war, should circumstances demand so, as a core hallmark of her credibility. The chapter demonstrates that when such a resolve is compromised, so is a great power’s credibility; as a result, her deterrence utility becomes devalued, bearing negatively on her security and prospects for international peace and stability.

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