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The Daily: GB Losing Grip on Soft Power?

The Daily: GB Losing Grip on Soft Power?

April 1, 2014 6:50 am by: Category: The Daily Leave a comment A+ / A-

Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

The Guardian assesses the new soft power report by Britain’s House of Lords and questions the governments weakening grip on international stature.

It is almost 25 years since the American academic Joseph Nye first introduced his distinction between hard power – force delivered through guns and money – and soft power – influence delivered through attraction and relationship. Yet Friday saw the first House of Lords select committee report on soft power – and its significance for Britain, as the Lords put it, “in a now almost totally transformed international scene”. Not only has economic power shifted unmistakably towards the south and east of the planet, says the report, but international relations – which used to be conducted entirely through diplomacy – are equally transformed. An internet-driven connectivity – between states as well as between institutions, groups and non-state actors of all kinds – has led to a new set of political relationships and identities, which could challenge traditional loyalties to either the US or Europe in the future. The Lords suggest that we should greatly enhance the capacity for meaningful engagement at all levels, including with online opinion formers such as Avaaz (and more locally 38 Degrees), adding: “The UK cannot simply proceed as before.” [The Guardian]

 

Counterpoint:

 

 

The U.S. State Department is bringing in the brain behind President Obama’s 2008 campaign to add a jolt to its digital diplomacy.

The influx of Obama digital alumni to the State Department reflects an attempt to bring American foreign policy—in particular outreach to non-citizens—into the modern era. In recent weeks, the State Department has used a Twitter account tweeting in Ukrainian to rebut Russian actions in Crimea and explain the United States’ response to the crisis. Whereas individual public affairs officials and ambassadors have taken to social media to drive American foreign policy, the new team will be working to craft department-wide best practices for engagement. “The question we at the State Department grapple with is who fills the narrative space about foreign policy priorities we care about all over the world,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “In Ukraine, is it the false Russian propaganda, or is it the U.S. leading the world in speaking the truth about what happening there? What Macon and Tom and their team will work to do is change the balance in places like Ukraine and all over the world to make America’s voice heard even louder and in more ways than we’ve ever done before.” [TIME]

 

 

I hope these types of videos become a regular addition to the newly redesigned Center for Public Diplomacy website: former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan discusses his own history and path to becoming a diplomat.

 

 

 

In a new book by Zhao Qizheng, “a pioneer in Chinese public diplomacy,” he writes that Chinese businesses working overseas are hurting China’s public diplomacy efforts due to their lack of social acumen.

Many Chinese companies dismally fail the test of diplomacy when they go abroad, says Zhao Qizheng, former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and former minister of the State Council Information Office. Not only do they act clumsily, but they also have little understanding of the concept of public diplomacy, says Zhao, who is widely regarded as a pioneer in Chinese public diplomacy. “We’ve done research on Chinese companies going overseas and found that many businessmen are good at talking business, but not at social dialogue,” Zhao says. Chinese businesses often operate overseas exactly as they do in China, overlooking cultural differences, which can cause problems, he says. [China Daily]

Also, I lack maturity:

 

 

I get the argument that soft power has limits, but only when the U.S. significantly decreases its enormous annual military expense will I buy these pieces on the U.S. losing stature due to its diminishing hard power reputation.

The likelier culprit is not so intimately tethered to the tribalisms of American politics, though ideology inevitably has played a role. Instead, the Western political class has become intoxicated with the notion that soft power, now the highly fashionable foreign-policy instrument of first resort, can compensate for—or in some ways replace altogether—diminished hard power. If the late 1990s was the heyday for liberal internationalism by airpower, the late 2000s saw an analogous consensus congregate around soft power. [The National Interest]

 

 

 

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The Daily: GB Losing Grip on Soft Power? Reviewed by on . Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] The Guardian assesses the new soft p Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] The Guardian assesses the new soft p Rating: 0

About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.

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