30
Apr

Beijing and Moscow are trying their hands at attraction, and failing — miserably.

By Joseph S. Nye

RUSSIA-CHINA-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY

When Foreign Policy first published my essay “Soft Power” in 1990, who would have expected that someday the term would be used by the likes of Hu Jintao or Vladimir Putin? Yet Hu told the Chinese Communist Party in 2007 that China needed to increase its soft power, and Putin recently urged Russian diplomats to apply soft power more extensively. Neither leader, however, seems to have understood how to accomplish his goals.

Power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes one wants, and that can be accomplished in three main ways — by coercion, payment, or attraction. If you can add the soft power of attraction to your toolkit, you can economize on carrots and sticks. For a rising power like China whose growing economic and military might frightens its neighbors into counter-balancing coalitions, a smart strategy includes soft power to make China look less frightening and the balancing coalitions less effective. For a declining power like Russia (or Britain before it), a residual soft power helps to cushion the fall.

The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority). But combining these resources is not always easy.

Establishing, say, a Confucius Institute in Manila to teach Chinese culture might help produce soft power, but it is less likely to do so in a context where China has just bullied the Philippines over possession of Scarborough Reef. Similarly, Putin has told his diplomats that “the priority has been shifting to the literate use of soft power, strengthening positions of the Russian language,” but as Russian scholar Sergei Karaganov noted in the aftermath of the dispute with Georgia, Russia has to use “hard power, including military force, because it lives in a much more dangerous world … and because it has little soft power — that is, social, cultural, political and economic attractiveness.”

Much of America’s soft power is produced by civil society — everything from universities and foundations to Hollywood and pop culture — not from the government. Sometimes the United States is able to preserve a degree of soft power because of its critical and uncensored civil society even when government actions — like the invasion of Iraq — are otherwise undermining it. But in a smart power strategy, hard and soft reinforce each other. Read more…

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is professor at Harvard and author of the new book Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.

As published in www.foreignpolicy.com on April 29, 2013.

Comments

rabaty August 31, 2013 - 11:46 pm

Recent Blogroll Additions…

I saw this really great post today….

Leave a Comment

*

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept