Soft power (from Wikipedia)

Soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye ofHarvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-optrather than by coercion (hard power), using force or giving money as a means ofpersuasion. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is noncoercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. Recently, the term has also been used in changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organizations. In 2012, Nye explained that with soft power, “the best propaganda is not propaganda”, further explaining that during theInformation Age, “credibility is the scarcest resource.”

Joseph Nye coined the term in a 1990 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. In this book, he wrote: “when one country gets other countries to want what it wants-might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants.”He further developed the concept in his 2004 book, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. The term is now widely used in international affairs by analysts and statesmen. For example, the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke of the need to enhance American soft power by “a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments ofnational security – diplomacy,strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development.” In 2011, as Xi Jinping was preparing to take power from General SecretaryHu Jintao, the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party devoted a whole plenary session to the issue of culture, with the final Communiqué declaring that it was a national goal to “build our country into a socialist cultural superpower.” And in 2014, Xi announced, “We should increase China’s soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate China’s messages to the world.”

According to the Soft Power 30, an annual index published by Portland Communicationsand the USC Center on Public DiplomacyFrance wields the most soft power in 2017. The rest of the top ten included theUnited KingdomUnited StatesGermanyCanada,JapanSwitzerlandAustralia,Sweden, and the Netherlands. According to the 2016/17Monocle Soft Power Survey, the United States holds the top spot in soft power. The Elcano Global Presence Report scores the European Union highest for soft presence when considered as a whole, and ranks the United States first among sovereign states.



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