I think the pen is more powerful most of the time. What you say and how you say it can change how everything goes very easily. I think words have more power then violence. Physical wounds will heal over time usually but emotional wounds can last a lifetime.
As for countries, I think it depends on the problem for them and the personality of the leader. If the leader is very liberal then they would most likely avoid a violent action at all cost except if there was an attack that caused many lives to be sacrificed. But if the leader is more forceful and has a bad attitude then he would probably choose more violent methods much more quickly.