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Why soft power is important

by on May 16, 2014

For Pangaea it was incremental subsurface tectonics that broke it apart .. it would take some 200 Million years for us to notice the cyclical pattern; political science has established a system in which the ‘ground level’ unseen forces of nations pull together towards unity. This it the essence of soft powers, to promote unity, and allow culture and with the financial and social need for stability on a broader scale due to increasing connectivity, this micro-political level of doing things is much less intrusive and alongside hard power can reinforce or change ideals as entrenches as culture and tradition.


Professor Nye (who coined the term) identified a country’s soft power as originating from not only its culture and its political values, but also its foreign policy. A country may derive soft power by impressing publics overseas through its foreign policy when it is seen to be legitimate and to possess moral authority.


Soft power then, tied in to a nation’s public image, and not something that is easy to develop. According to Monocle; Europe tends to consistently use soft power the most efficiently and although America is 3rd on their 2013 report it suffers from the reaction to much of its hard power policies being viewed negatively in some parts of the world – most notably wars such as Vietnam and the ‘War on Terror’.


The duality between soft and hard power is a tentative balance that needs to interrelate for objectives and can no longer be one or lop-sided, like in the days of old with the British Empire ideologically force-feeding the world with its hard power. The distinction between different types of them is one of degree, both in the nature of the behaviour and in the tangibility of the resources. Command power—the ability to change what others do—can rest on coercion or inducement. Co-optive power—the ability to shape what others want—can rest on the attractiveness of one’s culture and values or the ability to manipulate the agenda of political choices in a manner that makes others fail to express some preferences because they seem to be too unrealistic.

Soft power on the other hand extends through various different vehicles, from sportspeople to celebrities, simply by affiliation lending their credibility and popularity to causes that a nation is involved in. For example Vitali Klitschko using his influence to try and coerce peaceful revolution in the Ukraine.

Soft power targets are often shared within the powerful nations and therefore spread outwards; this progressive way of tackling global and national problems can give hope to one day eliminate the use of force.


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