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Soft Power


U.S. soft power still strong now, but clash is inevitable with rising competitors

Shah '14 (Ritula Shah, is a journalist and news presenter on BBC Radio, 24 hours international news coverage, "Is US monopoly on the use of soft power at an end?", BBC, November 19,

There is another complicating factor, the US may still be the only superpower but there are now new, competing visions of what the world should look like. The success of China's economy provokes both fear and admiration though China would like more of the latter. The 2008 Beijing Olympics probably marked the beginning of the Chinese government's efforts to nurture a soft power message. Since then, things have stepped up. There has been an expansion of Chinese Central Television, with the broadcaster producing English language programming from Washington and Nairobi. The Education Ministry is funding more than 450 Confucius Institutes which aim to spread Chinese language and culture. Their locations include some 90 universities in North America. But this attempt at building soft power has gone awry. Earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors wrote a report criticising the presence of Confucius Institutes on US campuses. The academics argued the Institutes were an arm of the Chinese state, which worked to "advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate". Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen are said to be among the subjects that aren't open for discussion in the Institutes. And in recent weeks, two prominent US universities have suspended their affiliated Confucius Institutes, as concerns about them grow. So for now, China's state funded soft power message, is treated with some suspicion and has nothing like the impact of the more grassroots US version. China is still feared rather than admired by most of its Asian neighbours (not least because of its military or hard power capacity) but over time, who is to say that Beijing's economic success, regardless of its political system, won't win over global admirers? So does soft power really matter? Governments seem to value it even though soft power alone won't prevent wars or silence your critics - although it may help to win support for your point of view. For now, US soft power, remains pre-eminent, America continues to succeed in selling us its culture, its ability to innovate and its way of life. But there are competing economic powers and competing ideologies, all demanding to be heard, all wanting to persuade you to see it their way. Wielding soft power effectively is set to get more complicated.

No Link

Soft power does not correlate with tangible power and can actually lead to complacency

Michael et al. '12 ( Bryane Michael is Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Christopher Hartwell is Head of global markets and institutional research, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Bulat Nureev is Deputy director, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, "Soft Power: A Double-Edged Sword?", BRICS Business Magazine,

While digital density may show how soft power is spread, the reality of soft power and its exercise is a complex issue. In much of the research, and especially in the popular press, soft power is shown as an unmitigated good: a country wants to have soft power, it should acquire soft power, and it improves its standing in the world through the exercise of soft power. However, it is possible that soft power may hurt, as well as help, a country, especially if its acquisition obscures the need to cultivate hard power as well. Additionally, soft power could lull a country’s leaders into a false sense of security. While being respected abroad may help to smooth over some difficulties, it can also lead to complacency. As the English adages have it, countries should not believe their own press, or rest on their laurels. This reality has been observed both in the trends in our data, as well as in the real-life example of Ukraine. Soft power, like all power, has its good and bad sides. Ukraine illustrates the paradoxes and prospects of soft power. It ranks in our top 20, compiled just before the recent unrest. Its soft power has made it attractive to both the EU and Russia, but has also made it the cynosure of all eyes, leading to a internal struggle for the rewards of that power. BRICS economies – and those learning from them, like Ukraine – must learn how to manage the risks as well as the returns that soft power provides, both at home and abroad. Ukraine has seen an increase in international soft power since its independence in 1991, carefully balancing Russian and European Union interests but drawing on its location, large population, and large foreign émigré base to give the country a voice in international affairs larger than its GDP alone may warrant. Even as the country itself has endured political and economic stagnation, the reputation of Ukraine as a bridge between East and West has survived. Successes such as the peaceful separation from the Soviet Union, coupled with ultimately successful negotiations to denuclearize the country, have also raised Ukraine’s visibility in the world. For example, Ukraine was the first former Soviet republic to co-host the UEFA European Championship, along with the more westernized Poland. Yet, while Ukraine’s soft power has been directed externally and raised the country’s standing in the eyes of the world, a successive run of Ukrainian leaders could not translate this international standing into tangible successes within the country. Like countries further east that have been plagued with political instability, Ukraine has seen itself undergo two political revolutions, the first leaving it even worse off economically than before. In terms of its economy, the country has stagnated due to corruption, lack of structural reforms, and a reliance on Soviet-era heavy manufacturing – all issues which have led to discontent and a disconnect with the country’s image abroad.

No link—the damage has already been done and cannot deter other countries; also hurts smaller countries

Charen '14 (Mona Charen, an American columnist, political analyst and author of two books, "Mona Charen: Obama’s ‘soft power’ ineffective, dangerous", The Spokesman Review, March 4,

Among the academic set from which President Barack Obama springs, everyone agrees that wars are the result of “arrogance” and bullying by the United States. So concerned was then-Sen. Obama about the potential for U.S. aggression that he declined to vote for 2007 legislation that would have designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The IRGC had been involved in training and arming terrorists worldwide, particularly in Lebanon (Hezbollah) but also in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. But Obama worried that such a vote would be “saber rattling.” Our standing in the “world community” (an oxymoron to beat all oxymorons) and our credibility had been badly damaged by just such bellicosity, Obama argued. His administration would deploy “soft power” and diplomacy to make the world safer and more peaceful. It would be nirvana to live in the world of the left’s imagination – a world in which the U.S. is the greatest threat to peace and stability. Obama has shown greater bellicosity toward Republicans (described as “terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests”) than toward our actual adversaries. When Mitt Romney cited Russia a long-term adversary of the U.S. in 2012, Obama’s contempt was glacial: “The ’80s called and they want their foreign policy back.” Though the president has repetitively declared that Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable,” his true wish – to accept Iran as a nuclear power in hopes that they will change their behavior – is now unfolding. In Vienna, diplomats from the P5+1 (U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) dine on fine cuisine washed down with excellent wines and periodically issued declarations of progress – which usually only means the agreement to meet for more empty discussions. Meanwhile, the severest sanctions against the Iranian regime have been lifted just as they were beginning to bite. It can’t do any harm to talk, right? That was Obama’s claim in 2008, when he suggested that he would meet with any rogue leader. He thinks words are like chicken soup – they may not help but they cannot hurt. We’re now seeing how dangerous that view is. First, as Claudia Rosett of Forbes writes, the pattern of talks we’re engaged in with Iran is identical to what we did with North Korea. “The pattern was one of procedural triumphs … followed by Pyongyang’s reneging, cheating, pocketing the gains and concessions won at the bargaining table, and walking away.” Formal conclaves that permit evil regimes to gain concessions in exchange for promises they quickly break are one form of dangerous talk. Obama has been perfecting another type as well: the empty threat. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” the president declared in 2011.

Shockingly, the tyrant willing to murder more than 100,000 people and displace millions didn’t immediately grab his coat and obey. Obama did nothing to back his words with actions (like arming the opposition, which was then not dominated by al-Qaida). Later he did something – he spoke more words. This time, it was Obama threatening that well, OK, Bashar Assad didn’t have to go, but if he used chemical weapons, that would cross a “red line for me.” (Talk about saber rattling.) When Assad flamboyantly hopscotched over Obama’s red line and received no response, the world rocked on its axis. Though the Obamaites couldn’t see it, every small, peace-loving nation in the world was instantly made more vulnerable. Perhaps now, with Russian ships and tanks aiming at Ukraine, they are beginning to understand how international relations work. (“It’s not some chessboard,” the president asserted recently, displaying his continuing confusion.) No, the game isn’t chess; it’s more like boxing, where the winner is the stronger one. The Ukraine crisis flows directly from the Syria debacle, as Vladimir Putin, like Assad, has taken Obama’s measure. The left heaped scorn on George W. Bush for initially praising Putin, but Bush wised up fast. Obama, by contrast, has submitted passively as Putin put one thumb after another in his eye (Edward Snowden, Assad). Not only has Obama failed to respond vigorously, but he’s permitted Putin to play peacemaker in Syria, supposedly presiding over Assad’s surrender of chemical weapons. This would be regarded as too risible for fiction, as Russia is Assad’s chief sponsor and arms supplier. In January, the administration, so easily surprised by the world, announced that Syria was “dragging its feet” on removing chemical weapons stockpiles and that only an estimated 4 percent of its supply had been relinquished. “It is the Assad regime’s responsibility to transport those chemicals to facilitate removal,” spokesman Jay Carney said. “We expect them to meet their obligation to do so.” Weakness invites aggression. Prepare for more.

Alt Causes

Soft power is dependent on having hard power first

Michael et al. '12 ( Bryane Michael is Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Christopher Hartwell is Head of global markets and institutional research, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Bulat Nureev is Deputy director, SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies, "Soft Power: A Double-Edged Sword?", BRICS Business Magazine,

While soft power is to some degree separate from hard power, through the influence of philosophy, religion and culture, it is also dependent on hard power. The world is more likely to pay attention to the soft power of a country already possessing a certain amount of hard power. Of course, there are plenty of countries whose ranks in combined soft and hard power are above or below their rank in hard power alone. But it is an illusion to think that a country can develop much outsized soft power without having a minimum amount of decent hard power. Small countries with very limited hard power can have a voice that is more than proportionate to their hard power. Some of the Nordic countries in the last 30 years are great examples of this. Their actions suggest that they also realize that they are more effective when acting in concert with other countries with a lot of both hard and soft power. While the term ‘soft power’ in English is relatively recent (due to Joe Nye), the substance of the notion far predates the English language term. The Confucian notion of ‘using virtue to govern,’ the associated body of teaching, and the meritorious system of selecting civil servants, are a form of soft power. The culture and political systems of Vietnam, Korea, Japan, etc., were all influenced by Confucian ideas. The influence of Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Muslim went far beyond their countries of origin; they are powerful early examples of soft power.

Every time I think of soft power, I am reminded of travelling abroad and being asked by customs officials or taxi drivers which country I come from. When I say Bulgaria, they usually reply “Stoichkov” or “Berbatov,” depending on their age, referring to our best-known soccer players. Some would add “weight lifting” or “wrestling,” referring to the old glory of Bulgaria in producing many Olympic champions in these sports. The reference points are different when you meet people from other professions. They vary from “great opera singers” to “you saved the Jews from the Nazis” to “nice resorts on the Black Sea,” to “the best yoghurt” to “Christo,” the environmental artist who wraps large buildings, bridges and rivers in canvas. Note that none of these references have to do with national income or economic growth or average life expectancy, the statistics most often used when ranking countries on economic power or national well-being. To me, they best exemplify the concept of soft power – what comes to the mind of people from other countries when they hear your country’s name. There is a clear pattern: Sports and art are truly international due to their global coverage, and hence soft power is highly associated with these two. History, as long as it has made it into the international history books, is next. Success in international politics, usually the domain of large countries, also matters. Science, including Nobel Prize winners, have a disproportionately large effect on forming people’s opinion about a country. Ireland is known as the country with most Nobel Prize winners in literature per capita, and proudly markets itself as such. There is, of course, a correlation between soft and hard power. Richer countries can afford to spend money on promoting their arts and sciences, on developing sports and memorable resorts. But the correlation is far from perfect – as shown in the Bulgarian example. Hristo Stoichkov, Bulgaria’s soccer legend, belongs to a generation of sportspeople who did their work during the most difficult years of the post-communist economic transition. For this reason it is useful to capture the main characteristics of soft power and document their development over time. This can tell us a lot about how others perceive us.

The current turmoil in the country, which appears to be split along geographic lines, also appears to be a result of the source of Ukraine’s soft power. The same balancing act between the EU and Russia which gave Ukraine its soft power internationally looks ready to tear the country apart. Like all investments, those in soft power have both risks and returns, but in Ukraine’s case the reality of the country has diverged from its image abroad. Unfortunately, in such a situation, reality always wins. Ukraine’s trouble in aligning hard power with soft power shows that the latter doesn’t necessarily equal a good image internationally. In some instances, it’s better to be seen and not heard. The case of India is instructive here, as it may benefit both from a relatively lower profile than other BRICS countries regarding many of its foibles – with correspondingly lower-key successes too – and by being the world’s largest democracy. As Alex Lo wrote in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post last year, “India largely gets a free pass while China is scrutinised with its every move. That’s India’s soft power that Beijing can learn from.” Apart from cultural heritage (Hinduism, Buddhism, yoga, Indian cuisine and so on), it is India’s successful 60-year democratic tradition that helps New Delhi to be regarded as an example for post-colonial and developing countries. Any nation willing to build a transparent and democratic society is more likely to follow India’s footsteps than China’s. And, given the post-Cold War prevalence of free-market democracies, to be accepted as a partner a country should be either democratic or have considerable economic prowess. Finally, by being accepted as democratic, a country is less likely to be sanctioned in the name of spreading democratic values.

Culture is more important than health in public diplomacy

Kim '11 (Hwajung Kim, "Cultural Diplomacy as the Means of Soft Power in an Information Age", Cultural Diplomacy, December 2011,, CL)

Cultural diplomacy is regarded as forming international bridges and interactions, identifying networks and power domains within cultures and transcending national and cultural boundaries. With information technologies presence, soft power incorporates national culture including knowledge, belief, art, morals and any other capabilities and habits created by a society. The importance of public diplomacy has been emerging since soft power has growing out of culture, out of domestic values and policies, and out of foreign policy.1 It draws the significant role of cultural diplomacy as linchpin of public diplomacy. According to Richard T. Arndt, in the book The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century, after completing a survey regarding the effectiveness of cultural diplomacy, he observed that cultural diplomacy is a cost effective practice considering its outcomes and impacts on international ties between countries. 2 The survey proves that cultural diplomacy helps create a foundation of trust with other people, which policy makers can build on to reach political, economic, and military agreements. Cultural diplomacy encourages other peoples to give the nation the benefit of the doubt on specific policy issues or requests for collaboration, since there is a presumption of shared interest. In addition, cultural diplomacy demonstrates national values and creates relationship with people, which endure changes in government. Furthermore, cultural diplomacy can reach influential members of foreign societies who cannot be reached through traditional embassy functions. In the meantime, it provides a positive agenda for cooperation in spite of policy differences, creates a neutral platform for people-to-people contact, and serves as a flexible, universally accepted vehicle for approach with countries where diplomatic relations have been strained or are absent. As the information age arrived, a new way of communication in a cyberspace has been formed and developed alongside rapidly evolving information technologies. This new way of communication provides new opportunities for cultural policy makers to broaden their target audience and to promote culture even more widely with its new media platforms. Likewise, cultural diplomacy using information technologies will gain and strengthen soft power if cultural policy makers make use of new communication technologies effectively and strategically.

Soft power is driven by culture

Department of Culture, Media, and Sport '14 (UK Dept., "Culture and creativity – the key to our ‘Soft Power’ success", UK Government, January 22,, CL)

The value of the arts and culture to the UK can be seen in the way it affects our international standingthe ‘soft power’ it bringsand its role as the driving force behind our booming creative industries, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said today. In a keynote speech to cultural leaders today she said: Culture matters. That’s why it holds a unique place in our hearts. It has a central place in shaping our national identity, and has an enormous impact on our global standing– our reputation as a place worth doing business with; our reputation as a place worth visiting; and our reputation as a place worth experiencing culture in its many varied forms. The reputation of UK culture equips us with a level of trust, soft power and influence to which other major countries can only aspire. It is our culture that underpins our creativity and our creativity which yields the results which might well be technological developments, but can also make our hearts sing, 1.68 million people work in the UK’s creative industries. These people contribute to a sector worth more than £70 billion last year and which grew faster than any other sector in the economy. I absolutely believe that our arts, culture and creative industries here in this country are not only the best in the world, but that there are vital to our future national well-being and prosperity.

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