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The Daily: The End of Soft Power?

The Daily: The End of Soft Power?

April 21, 2014 9:36 am by: Julia Watson 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.

This short but through-provoking piece by Gökhan Bacik considers the consequences of the “end” of soft power.

Two states have been the champions of soft power in global politics: the United States and the European Union. They are, however, no longer interested in soft power, for various reasons. To begin with the EU: Europeans believe that they have reached the limits of expansion. In the US, it is more to do with the Obama doctrine than with other reasons. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy vision is indeed very interesting. It looks like a middle-sized European state’s foreign policy framework. Remembering what the Bush administration did in various regions, President Obama’s approach can be declared correct. Time will judge Obama’s global-politics legacy. But the Obama administration has certainly downgraded the US’s influence in global politics. So what is the global consequence of the demise of the soft power age? First, the West is becoming inward looking. Western states will fortify their borders. Second, hybrid models will prevail in many other states. In the hybrid model, economic stability and authoritarian political regime blend: Governments offer some sort of economic stability in exchange for voters’ acceptance of less democracy. [Today’s Zaman]



Donald M. Bishop at the Public Diplomacy Council makes a strong case for why we should reflect on the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq now, when we have time to make corrections.

When I speak of capturing “lessons learned,” I am speaking institutionally about the “civilian” side of the war – diplomacy; public diplomacy; the embassy, consulates, and PRTs; coordination with the military commands and representatives of other cabinet departments and agencies; resources, money, people, and so on.  This includes organizational paradigms, institutional repertoires, career patterns and incentives too.  All influenced the “civ” responses to the wars, and we need to clarify them… I write this as American diplomacy and Public Diplomacy are coping with the challenges in Ukraine and a host of other crises.  I can hear the objection – “we’re too busy now.”  I say in reply, “we’re always going to be too busy.”  And a profession that can’t ever look back — because it’s always too busy – will always be sentenced to repeat mistakes. [Public Diplomacy Council]



This is an overview MIT’s “innovation diplomacy” programs that aim to draw innovators to Boston from around the world – an interesting idea.

Nations (or usually cities and regions) with high innovation capacity are attractive to others, and duly exert soft power. As they do so, professional diplomats remain involved: harnessing this diplomacy for innovation overseas can help attract more foreign direct investment, and talented individuals (especially entrepreneurs), to their home nations, either as a returning diaspora or as new immigrants. The United States has several cities which are exemplars of this, while globally both Singapore and London exert such attraction. The sense in which MIT (and therefore Greater Boston) can be a global player in this emerging innovation diplomacy involves those interested in learning more about innovation in general (especially how to accelerate entrepreneurship in their local economies) and the role innovation-driven enterprises (IDEs) can play. Today’s innovation diplomats include policymakers but also entrepreneurs themselves, large corporations and politicians. They frequently come to Boston to visit MIT, or find ways to engage MIT with their home nation or city. [Beta Boston]



Julie Bishop, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, talks about her plans for Australia’s involvement in Asean for the coming years.

Australia is willing and able to be a partner in the economic agenda for this region and to increase our existing deep economic engagement, that has already seen two-way trade increase from A$45 billion to A$92 billion (RM136 billion and RM378 billion) between Australia and Asean over the past decade. The new Australian government has adopted a policy of “economic diplomacy” as a key platform of our foreign policy to ensure we unlock the productivity enhancing benefits of closer trade and investment ties in our region. Just as traditional diplomacy aims for peace, economic diplomacy aims for prosperity. It is timely that we reflect on Australia’s partnership with Asean, as we reach the milestone this month of 40 years of bilateral relations. [New Straits Times]




photo credit: Matt Lehman

ASEAN innovation diplomacy MIT
The Daily: The End of Soft Power? Reviewed by Julia Watson on . Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] This short but through-provoking pie Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] This short but through-provoking pie Rating: 0

About Julia Watson

Julia Watson is a current public diplomacy graduate student at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Her interests include cultural diplomacy, international communication and Middle Eastern affairs, and in her free time she enjoys learning obscure languages and experimenting with new recipes.
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