Soft power

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Soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than by coercion (hard power), using force or giving money as a means of persuasion. 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 the Information Age, "credibility is the scarcest resource."[1]

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.”[2] 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 of national securitydiplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development."[3] In 2011, as Xi Jinping was preparing to take power from Hu 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."[4] 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."[5]

According to the 2015 Soft Power World Rankings report from Comres, Portland Communications, and Facebook, the United Kingdom currently holds the top spot in soft power, followed by Germany in second place. The top ten is completed by the United States, France, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, Netherlands.[6][7][8] According to the 2014 Monocle Soft Power Survey, the United States holds the top spot in soft power.[9] The Elcano Global Presence Report scores the European Union highest for soft presence when considered as a whole,[10] and ranks the United States first by sovereign state.[11][12] It includes China, Russia, Spain and Italy in the top ten.


Joseph Nye's 2004 book describing the concept of "soft power"

Joseph Nye introduced the concept of "soft power" in the late 1980s.[13] For Nye, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want. There are several ways one can achieve this: you can coerce them with threats; you can induce them with payments; or you can attract and co-opt them to want what you want. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them.[2]

It can be contrasted with 'hard power', which is the use of coercion and payment. Soft power can be wielded not just by states but also by all actors in international politics, such as NGOs or international institutions.[14] It is also considered the "second face of power" that indirectly allows you to obtain the outcomes you want. A country's soft power, according to Nye, rests 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 others see them as legitimate and having moral authority)."[15]

"A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries – admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness – want to follow it. In this sense, it is also important to set the agenda and attract others in world politics, and not only to force them to change by threatening military force or economic sanctions. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes that you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them."[16]

Soft power resources are the assets that produce attraction which often leads to acquiescence.[16] Nye asserts that, "Seduction is always more effective than coercion, and many values like democracy, human rights, and individual opportunities are deeply seductive."[17] Angelo Codevilla observed that an often overlooked essential aspect of soft power is that different parts of populations are attracted or repelled by different things, ideas, images, or prospects.[18] Soft power is hampered when policies, culture, or values repel others instead of attracting them.

In his book, Nye argues that soft power is a more difficult instrument for governments to wield than hard power for two reasons: many of its critical resources are outside the control of governments, and soft power tends to "work indirectly by shaping the environment for policy, and sometimes takes years to produce the desired outcomes."[17][19] The book identifies three broad categories of soft power: "culture", "political values", and "policies."

In The Future of Power (2011), Nye reiterates that soft power is a descriptive, rather than a normative, concept.[20] Therefore, soft power can be wielded for nefarious purposes. "Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all possessed a great deal of soft power in the eyes of their acolytes, but that did not make it good. It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms."[20] Nye also claims that soft power does not contradict the international relations theory of realism. "Soft power is not a form of idealism or liberalism. It is simply a form of power, one way of getting desired outcomes."[21]

Limitations of the concept[edit]

Soft power has been criticized as being ineffective by authors such as Niall Ferguson in the preface to Colossus. Neorealist and other rationalist and neorationalist authors (with the exception of Stephen Walt) dismiss soft power out of hand as they assert that actors in international relations respond to only two types of incentives: economic incentives and force.

As a concept, it can be difficult to distinguish between soft power from hard power. For example, Janice Bially Mattern argues that George W. Bush's use of the phrase "you are either with us or with the terrorists" was in fact an exercise of hard power. Though military and economic force was not used to pressure other states to join its coalition, a kind of force – representational force – was used. This kind of force threatens the identity of its partners, forcing them to comply or risk being labelled as evil. This being the case, soft power is therefore not so soft.[22] However, rationalist authors[who?] would merely see this as an 'implied threat', and that direct economic or military sanctions would likely follow from being 'against us'.


The first attempt to measure soft power through a composite index was created and published by the Institute for Government and the media company Monocle in 2010.[23] The IfG-Monocle Soft Power Index combined a range of statistical metrics and subjective panel scores to measure the soft power resources of 26 countries. The metrics were organized according to a framework of five sub-indices including culture, diplomacy, education,[24] business/innovation, and government. The index is said to measure the soft power resources of countries, and does not translate directly into ability influence. Monocle has published an annual Soft Power Survey since then. As of 2014/15, the list is calculated using around 50 factors that indicate the use of soft power, including the number of cultural missions, Olympic medals, the quality of a country's architecture and business brands.[9]

The Soft Power 30, which includes a foreword by Joseph Nye, is a ranking of countries' soft power produced and published by the media company Portland in 2015. The ranking is based on "the quality of a country’s political institutions, the extent of their cultural appeal, the strength of their diplomatic network, the global reputation of their higher education system, the attractiveness of their economic model, and a country’s digital engagement with the world."[25][26][27]

The Elcano Global Presence Report scores the European Union first for soft presence when its member states are excluded and the EU is considered as a whole.[11]

Soft power, then, represents the third behavioral way of getting the outcomes you want. Soft power is contrasted with hard power, which has historically been the predominant realist measure of national power, through quantitative metrics such as population size, concrete military assets, or a nation's gross domestic product. But having such resources does not always produce the desired outcomes, as the United States discovered in the Vietnam War. The extent of attraction can be measured by public opinion polls, by elite interviews, and case studies.[citation needed]

Nye argues that soft power is more than influence, since influence can also rest on the hard power of threats or payments. And soft power is more than just persuasion or the ability to move people by argument, though that is an important part of it. It is also the ability to attract, and attraction often leads to acquiescence.[citation needed]

In international relations, soft power is generated only in part by what the government does through its policies and public diplomacy. The generation of soft power is also affected in positive (and negative) ways by a host of non-state actors within and outside the country. Those actors affect both the general public and governing elites in other countries, and create an enabling or disabling environment for government policies.[citation needed]

In some cases, soft power enhances the probability of other elites adopting policies that allow one to achieve preferred outcomes. In other cases, where being seen as friendly to another country is seen as a local political kiss of death, the decline or absence of soft power will prevent a government from obtaining particular goals. But even in such instances, the interactions of civil societies and non-state actors may help to further general milieu goals such as democracy, liberty, and development. Soft power is not the possession of any one country or actor.[citation needed]

The success of soft power heavily depends on the actor's reputation within the international community, as well as the flow of information between actors. Thus, soft power is often associated with the rise of globalization and neoliberal international relations theory. Popular culture and mass media are regularly identified as a source of soft power,[28] as is the spread of a national language or a particular set of normative structures; a nation with a large amount of soft power and the good will that engenders it inspire others to acculturate, avoiding the need for expensive hard power expenditures.[citation needed] More particularly, international news was found crucial in shaping the image and reputation of foreign countries. The high prominence of the US in international news, for example, has been linked to its soft power.[29] Positive news coverage was associated with positive international views, while negative news coverage with negative views.[30]

Because soft power has appeared as an alternative to raw power politics, it is often embraced by ethically-minded scholars and policymakers. But soft power is a descriptive rather than a normative concept. Like any form of power, it can be wielded for good or bad purposes. While soft power can be used with bad intentions and wreak horrible consequences, it differs in terms of means. It is on this dimension that one might construct a normative preference for greater use of soft power.[citation needed]

The Soft Power 30 2015
Soft Power Survey 2014/15
Global Presence Report 2015
Soft presence
Rank Country
1  United Kingdom
2  Germany
3  United States
4  France
5  Canada
6  Australia
7   Switzerland
8  Japan
9  Sweden
10  Netherlands
11  Denmark
12  Italy
13  Austria
14  Spain
15  Finland
Rank Country
1  United States Increase
2  Germany Decrease
3  United Kingdom Decrease
4  Japan Increase
5  France Decrease
6   Switzerland Decrease
7  Australia Decrease
8  Sweden Decrease
9  Denmark Increase
10  Canada Decrease
11  Spain Increase
12  Italy Decrease
13  Netherlands Steady
14  New Zealand Increase
15  South Korea Decrease
Rank Country
1  United States
2  United Kingdom
3  Germany
4  France
5  Japan
6  China
7  Russia
8  Spain
9  Italy
10  Canada
11  Australia
12  Netherlands
13  South Korea
14  Turkey
15  Sweden


Academics have engaged in several debates around soft power. These have included:

  • Its usefulness (Giulio Gallarotti, Niall Ferguson, Josef Joffe, Robert Kagan, Ken Waltz, Mearsheimer vs Nye, Katzenstein, Janice Bially Mattern, Jacques Hymans, Alexander Vuving, Jan Mellisen)
  • How soft power and hard power interact (Giulio Gallarotti, Joseph Nye)
  • Whether soft power can be coercive or manipulative, (Janice BIally Mattern, Katzenstein, Duvall & Barnet vs Nye, Vuving)
  • How the relationship between structure and agency work (Hymans vs Nye)
  • Whether soft balancing is occurring (Wohlforth & Brooks vs Walt et al.)
  • Soft power and normative power in Europe (Ian Manners, A Ciambra, Thomas Diez, A Hyde Pryce, Richard Whitman)
  • How civil resistance (i.e., non-violent forms of resistance) can often involve certain uses of soft power, but remains a distinct concept (Adam Roberts, Timothy Garton Ash)

One study finds that a state's soft power has a measurable effect on its exports. Countries that are admired for their positive global influence export more, holding other things constant.[32]


Throughout the world[edit]

After Pope John Paul II visited Poland in 1979, some political commentators said his visit influenced events against Poland's Communist regime, the Soviet Empire, and ultimately Communism.[18]

"The Pope won that struggle by transcending politics. His was what Joseph Nye calls "soft power" – the power of attraction and repulsion. He began with an enormous advantage, and exploited it to the utmost: He headed the one institution that stood for the polar opposite of the Communist way of life that the Polish people hated. He was a Pole, but beyond the regime’s reach. By identifying with him, Poles would have the chance to cleanse themselves of the compromises they had to make to live under the regime. And so they came to him by the millions. They listened. He told them to be good, not to compromise themselves, to stick by one another, to be fearless, and that God is the only source of goodness, the only standard of conduct. "Be not afraid," he said. Millions shouted in response, "We want God! We want God! We want God!" The regime cowered. Had the Pope chosen to turn his soft power into the hard variety, the regime might have been drowned in blood. Instead, the Pope simply led the Polish people to desert their rulers by affirming solidarity with one another. The Communists managed to hold on as despots a decade longer. But as political leaders, they were finished." [33]

Besides the Pope's visit, American broadcasting into Soviet-occupied Europe, particularly Poland, contributed to the rise of the Solidarity movement and to the collapse of the Soviet-backed regimes there and in the rest of the Warsaw Pact alliance.[19]

The Soviets competed with the U.S. for influence throughout the Cold War. The Soviets were engaged in a broad campaign to convince the world of the attractiveness of its Communist system. In 1945, the Soviet Union was very effective in attracting many in Europe from its resistance to Hitler, and in colonized areas around the world because of its opposition to European imperialism.[34] The Soviets also employed a substantially large public diplomacy program that included: promoting their high culture, broadcasting, disseminating disinformation about the West, and sponsoring nuclear protests, peace movements, and youth organizations. Despite all of this, the Soviets' closed system and lack of popular culture impeded the ability of the Soviet Union to compete with the U.S. in terms of soft power.

The United States and Europe have consistently been sources of influence and soft power.[35] European culture consisting of its art, literature, music, design, fashion, and even food have been global magnets for some time.[34] Europe and the U.S. have promoted human rights and international law throughout the world. Unlike America, the Europeans love of soccer enhances their soft power globally, whereas the primary sports of the U.S. such as football and baseball are largely unpopular on the world stage. In 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for over six decades [it has] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."[36][37] The U.S. has the largest number of foreign journalists based in the country,[38] and is the most popular destination for international students.[39] American films, among other influences, have contributed to the Americanization of other cultures.[40]

Asia and more recently China have been working to use the potential soft power assets that are present in the admiration of their ancient cultures, ares, fashion and cuisine. China is presenting itself as a defender of national sovereignty,[41] which became an issue after the NATO air campaign to oust Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and NATO's support of the rebels in Libya.[42] The Chinese are also competing with the United States to gain influence throughout the South Pacific, however some commentators have said their recent assertiveness in this region has created an appeal for nations in this region to align with the United States thus increasing U.S. soft power in this area.[43]

Soft power extends beyond the operations of government, to the activities of the private sector and to society and culture at large.[44] Soft power has gained more influence because it addresses the underlying dispositions of the people who have increasingly become more active in their governments.[18] This is true even in authoritarian countries where people and institutions are increasingly able to shape the debate.[45]

The information age has also led to the rise of soft power resources for non-state actors. Primarily, through the use of global media, and to a greater extent the internet, non-state actors have been able to increase their soft power and put pressure on governments that can ultimately affect policy outcomes. Instead of front organizations, non-state actors can create cyber advocacy organizations [46] to recruit members and project their voice on the global stage.


China's traditional culture has been a source of attraction, building on which it has created several hundred Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture. The enrollment of foreign students in China has increased from 36,000 a decade ago to at least 240,000 in 2010.[47] China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has attracted many western countries to join.[48]

A spring 2014 Global Attitudes survey from Pew Research Center states China receives mostly positive reviews in the sub-Saharan African nations polled, although South Africans are closely divided (45% favorable, 40% unfavorable).[49] China's increasing soft power can be explained by looking at China's economic growth and regarding economic engagement with many African countries. China's expansion of trade and investment on the African continent and the spread of Chinese-led infrastructure projects gives positive impression about China towards people in Africa. China's economic engagement in African countries is considered as much more pragmatic and in consistency with the priorities of many African countries. Moreover, China's increasing role as a global superpower seems appealing and this drives a desire to tie African economies more closely to China's economy.

China has made a systematic effort to expand and give greater profile to its soft-power policies in Africa ever since the first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000. The commitments of China's soft power ranges from health, humanitarian assistance to academic, professional and cultural exchange. China's assistance to Africa, however, is not near the U.S. assistance in Africa.

Cultural exchange between China and Africa can be a representative example of how China has been spreading its soft power. In 2005, the first Confucius Institute was established in Africa. The institute is funded by the Chinese government and it provides Chinese language and cultural programming to the public. There are 19 institutes today in Africa and China has planned to spend 20 million renminbi for education projects in South Africa, including the teaching of Mandarin in 50 local high schools.

Furthermore, there is an increasing support for cultural visitors programs which gained momentum in 2004 when the African Cultural Visitors Program was established. There is a rising number of African entrepreneurs who choose to move to China and there are also diaspora communities in many Chinese cities that have been found.[50]

Outside of Africa, Chinese soft power extends to countries like the Barbados. Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson expressed admiration for the Chinese economic model and sought to emulate the way Chinese state controlled banks guided development.[51]

Under Mr. Xi, China’s soft power has suffered from his crackdown on civil society and from the nationalistic response to China’s disputes with its neighbours.[52]


France has long exerted a great amount of soft power. The country and its culture have for centuries been admired in many parts of the world; so much so that Thomas Jefferson is famously quoted as saying "Every man has two countries, his own and France."[53] The very term "culture" comes from France.[54]

France was a focal point of the Age of Enlightenment;[55] its attachment to the ideals of liberty, equality, tolerance and reason was notably embodied in the writing and publishing of the Encyclopédie. The French Revolution was one of the most significant events in European and world history. France has since then been instrumental in spreading Republican ideals. The Napoleonic Code, which influenced much of the rest of Europe and beyond, is regarded as one of the most important law document of the modern era.[56]

The French language has for centuries been an important diplomatic language. For example, French has to be used – on par with English – for all documents issued by the United Nations Treaty Series, ensuring that all UN treaties are equally valid in their English and French versions.[57]

France has also followed for decades a very active diplomatic and cultural policy. The Alliance Française, whose aim is to promote the French language and French culture, was created as early as 1883.[58] In Monocle's 2015 "Soft Power 30" report, France was ranked first in the "engagement" criteria, which is intended to measure "the reach of states’ diplomatic network and their commitment to major challenges like development and the environment." Monocle further noted that "In terms of influential reach, France is the best networked state in the world and is member of more multi-lateral organisations than any other country." Overall, France ranked fourth in that study.[59]

France's laïcité, secularism, policy has inspired some countries over time. For instance, France was Ataturk's main role model when he reformed his country to westernise it.[60]

France, and in particular Paris,[61] has long been considered one of the most romantic places to be. France was in 2014 the most visited country in the world.[62]


The annual soft power rankings by Monocle magazine and the Institute for Government ranks 30 countries which “best attract favor from other nations through culture, sport, cuisine, design, diplomacy and beyond.” Monocle magazine said: “Merkel may be painted as a stern taskmaster but it seems she has a softer side, or the country she leads does.” It said Germany’s rise as a soft power should not come as a surprise. “The country is traditionally excellent at pursuing its ideas, values and aims using diplomatic, cultural and economic tools," it said. “By quietly doing the simple things well it is a country that has become a global power and the rest of us can feel comfortable with that.” Germans had been understandably wary about depicting a dominant image abroad, the magazine added, but it said that the country’s rise should not make everyone else feel uncomfortable.[63][64]


The famous elements of Italian soft culture are its art, music, fashion, and iconic food. Italy was the birthplace of opera,[65] and for generations the language of opera was Italian, irrespective of the nationality of the composer. Popular tastes in drama in Italy have long favored comedy; the improvisational style known as the Commedia dell'arte began in Italy in the mid-16th century[66] and is still performed today. Before being exported to France, the famous Ballet dance genre also originated in Italy. The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome was the ancient capital of the Roman Empire and seat of the Pope of the Catholic Church. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts that ended the Dark Ages.[67] Other important cities include Turin, which used to be the capital of Italy, and is now one of the world's great centers of automobile engineering. Milan is a fashion capital of the World. Venice, with its intricate canal system, attracts tourists from all over the world especially during the Venetian Carnival and the Biennale. Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (51) to date,[68][69] and according to one estimate the country is home to half the world's great art treasures.[70] The nation has, overall, an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (churches, cathedrals, archaeological sites, houses and statues).[71]

Italy is considered the birthplace of Western civilization and a cultural superpower.[72]


Main article: Cool Japan

"Cool Japan" is a concept coined in 2002 as an expression of Japan’s popular culture. The concept has been adopted by the Japanese government as well as trade bodies seeking to exploit the commercial capital of the country’s culture industry.[73][74] It has been described as a form of soft power, “the ability to indirectly influence behavior or interests through cultural or ideological means.”[75] In a 2002 article in the journal Foreign Policy titled “Japan’s Gross National Cool”, Douglas McGray wrote of Japan “reinventing superpower” as its cultural influence expanded internationally despite the economic and political problems of the “lost decade.” Surveying youth culture and the role of J-pop, manga, anime, fashion, film, consumer electronics, architecture, and cuisine, McGray highlighted Japan’s considerable soft power, posing the question of what message the country might project. He also argued that Japan’s recession may even have boosted its national cool, due to the partial discrediting of erstwhile rigid social hierarchies and big-business career paths.[76][77]


Russia has been developing its soft power by investing in various public diplomacy instruments throughout the 2000s[78] but the term was first used in an official document in 2010 as President Medvedev approved an Addendum to the national Foreign Policy Concept. The term was not defined but it was described as related to cultural diplomacy.[79] In 2013, the term appeared in a new version of the Foreign Policy Concept where the soft power was defined as "a comprehensive toolkit for achieving foreign policy objectives building on civil society potential, information, cultural and other methods and technologies alternative to traditional diplomacy."[80] In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin was named Time Person of the Year. In 2013, he was named most powerful person by Forbes magazine.[81]

South Korea's Hallyu diplomacy[edit]

Main article: Korean Wave
U.S. President Barack Obama: "...And of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture -- the Korean Wave"[82]
As is clear with the recent rise of Psy's "Gangnam Style",
the Hallyu-wave and Korean pop music, Korean culture
is making its mark on the world.
—United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon[83]

"Hallyu", also known as the "Korean Wave", is a neologism referring to the increase in the popularity of South Korean culture since the late 1990s. According to a Washington Post reporter, the increased popularity of South Korean entertainment has led to higher sales of other goods and services such as food, clothing, video games, and Korean language classes.[84] Besides increasing the amount of exports, the Korean Wave is used by the government as a soft power tool to engage with the masses of young people all over the world,[85] and to reduce anti-Korean sentiment.[86]

In the 21st century, culture is power.

— South Korean president Park Geun-hye.[87]

In 2012, the BBC's country rating poll revealed that public opinion of South Korea has been improving every year since the first rating poll for the country was conducted in 2009. In several countries such as Russia, India, China and France, public opinion of South Korea turned from slightly negative to generally positive. The report cited culture and tradition as among the most important factors contributing to positive perceptions of South Korea.[88] This comes alongside a rapid growth in the total value of cultural exports which rose to US$4.2 billion in 2011.[89]

First driven by the spread of Korean dramas televised across East, South and Southeast Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon due to the proliferation of Korean pop (K-pop) music videos on YouTube.[90] Currently, the spread of the Korean Wave to other regions of the world is most visibly seen among teenagers and young adults in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and immigrant enclaves of the Western world.[91][92][93][94][95][96][97][98]

United Kingdom[edit]

Since the period of Pax Britannica the United Kingdom has held significant soft power.[99] Today it remains one of the most influential countries in the world, coming first in the 2015 Portland Group, Comres, Facebook report.[100][101][102] The UK also came first in the Monocle survey of global soft power in 2012.[38][103][104]

The UK has strong diplomatic relations with countries around the world, particularly countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and many others in Europe, Asia, the Middle-east, Africa and the United States.[105][106] Diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries are known as High Commissions rather than Embassies to indicate the closeness of the relationship.[107] The United Kingdom has one of the largest global networks of diplomatic missions.[38] Many countries around the world use the British form of democracy and government known as the Westminster system.[108][109]

The influence of British culture and sports are widespread, particularly notable during the British Invasion, Cool Britannia, and more recently the Diamond Jubilee and 2012 Summer Olympics.[110][111] The opening and closing ceremonies celebrated British culture and achievements with the world.[112][113] London is the only city to have hosted the modern Olympics three times.[114] British media is broadcast internationally, notably the BBC World Service, BBC World News and The Economist magazine. British film and literature have international appeal, and British theatre helps make London one of the most visited cities in the world.[115][116] Schools and universities in Britain are popular destinations for students of other nations.[117][118]

Alongside the English language, English contract law is the most important and most used contract law in international business.[119][120] London is the headquarters for four of the world's six largest law firms.[121] The UK and more specifically London is a centre of international finance where foreign participants in financial markets come to deal with one another.[122][123] It is headquarters for major international corporations, many of which choose to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.[124][125]

United States[edit]

"Soft power has been a strong suit for the United States virtually from its inception – certainly long before the country became a recognized world power in the twentieth century. American 'exceptionalism' – the nation’s devotion to freedom, the rule of law, and the practice of republican government, its openness to immigrants of all races and religions, its opposition to traditional power politics and imperialism – has had a great deal to do with the rise of the United States to its currently dominant global role." [126]

The United States has long had a great deal of soft power. Examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt's four freedoms in Europe at the end of World War II, young people behind the Iron Curtain listening to radio Free Europe, Chinese students symbolizing their protests in Tiananmen Square by creating a replica of the Statue of Liberty that they called "Goddess of Democracy", newly liberated Afghans in 2001 asking for a copy of the Bill of Rights and young Iranians today surreptitiously watching banned American videos and satellite television broadcasts in the privacy of their homes.[17] America's early commitment to religious toleration, for example, was a powerful element of its overall appeal to potential immigrants; and American aid in the reconstruction of Europe after World War II was an advertisement both of the prosperity and the generosity of the people of the United States.

Studies of American broadcasting into the Soviet bloc, and testimonials from Czech President Václav Havel, Polish President Lech Wałęsa, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin support that soft power efforts of the United States and its allies during the Cold War were ultimately successful in creating the favorable conditions that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire.[127]

Alhurra Logo

"Satellite TV is actively promoting American soft power in the Arab world in ways that the United States has been incapable of doing. The launch of the Arabic-language Alhurra satellite channel in early 2004 to provide news and entertainment in ways more beneficial to the U.S., marked an important turning point in U.S. public diplomacy development. Though it calls itself the largest Arabic-language news organization in the world, the Virginia-based Alhurra lacks the cachet and brand recognition of Al Jazeera, but its balanced presentation of news has earned it a small but significant viewership. Controversial innovations in radio broadcasting that target young mass audiences through a mix of light news and mild American popular music – Radio Sawa in Arabic and Radio Farda in Persian – have captured a substantial market share in their target regions."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nye, Joseph (8 May 2012). "China's Soft Power Deficit To catch up, its politics must unleash the many talents of its civil society.". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Nye, Joseph.Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power(New York: Basic Books, 1990).
  3. ^ Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, Manhattan, Kansas, Monday, November 26, 2007.
  4. ^ The red carpet, China's film industry, December 21st, 2013
  5. ^ David Shambaugh, China's Soft-power Push,Foreign Affairs,
  6. ^ McClory, Jonathan (14 August 2015). "The Soft Power 30 World Rankings" (PDF). Comres. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Softly Does It'". The Economist. 18 July 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "UK is global leader in soft power, world's most comprehensive analysis finds" (PDF). Facebook, Comres, Portland Group. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Soft Power Survey 2014/15". Monocle. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-27. 
  10. ^ Pages 23-24, 26: Including the European Union and excluding its member states, EU soft presence scores 52.2% of 1214.9, U.S. soft presence scores 46.8% of 1099.6
  11. ^ a b c "Elcano Global Presence Report 2015" (PDF). Real Instituto Elcano. 2015. p. 20. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  12. ^ "From Seville to Brussels: The Architecture of Global Presence". International Relations and Security Network. October 28, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015. Our partners at the Elcano Royal Institute have released their latest edition of the Global Presence Index. It confirms that the EU – if perceived as a single global actor – has the greatest degree of ‘presence’ in the world, largely because of the contributions of the UK, Germany and France. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics
  15. ^ Nye, Joseph S. (2011). The Future of Power. New York: PublicAffairs. p. 84. ISBN 9781586488925. 
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Further reading[edit]

  • Giulio Gallarotti, Cosmopolitan Power in International Relations: A Synthesis of Realism, Neoliberalism, and Constructivism, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010, how hard and soft power can be combined to optimize national power
  • Giulio Gallarotti, The Power Curse: Influence and Illusion in World Politics, Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner Press, 2010, an analysis of how the over reliance on hard power can diminish the influence of nations.
  • Giulio Gallarotti. "Soft Power: What it is, Why It's Important, and the Conditions Under Which it Can Be Effectively Used" Journal of Political Power (2011),
  • Soft Power and US Foreign Policy: Theoretical, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Inderjeet Parmar and Michael Cox, Routledge, 2010.
  • Steven Lukes, "Power and the battle for hearts and minds: on the bluntness of soft power," in Felix Berenskoetter and M.J. Williams, eds. Power in World Politics, Routledge, 2007.
  • Janice Bially Mattern, "Why Soft Power Isn't So Soft," in Berenskoetter and Williams.
  • J.S. Nye, "Notes for a soft power research agenda," in Berenskoetter and Williams.
  • Young Nam Cho and Jong Ho Jeong, "China's Soft Power," Asia Survey 48, 3, pp. 453–72.
  • Yashushi Watanabe and David McConnell, eds, Soft Power Superpowers: Cultural and National Assets of Japan and the United States, London, M E Sharpe, 2008.
  • Ingrid d'Hooghe, "Into High Gear: China's Public Diplomacy", The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, No. 3 (2008), pp. 37–61.
  • Ingrid d'Hooghe, "The Rise of China's Public Diplomacy", Clingendael Diplomacy Paper No. 12, The Hague, Clingendael Institute, July 2007, ISBN 978-90-5031-117-5, 36 pp.
  • "Playing soft or hard cop," The Economist, January 19, 2006.
  • Y. Fan, (2008) "Soft power: the power of attraction or confusion", Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 4:2, available at
  • Bruce Jentleson, "Principles: The Coming of a Democratic Century?" from American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century.
  • Prieto Gutierrez, J. J. (2015). World Libraries, the Diplomatic Role of Cultural Agencies. European Review, 23(03), 361-368 [2]
  • Jan Melissen, "Wielding Soft Power," Clingendael Diplomacy Papers, No 2, Clingendael, Netherlands, 2005.
  • Chicago Council on Global Affairs, "Soft Power in East Asia" June 2008.
  • Joseph Nye, The Powers to Lead, NY Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Nye, Joseph, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.
  • Joshua Kurlantzick, Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Transforming the World (Yale University Press, 2007). Analysis of China's use of soft power to gain influence in the world's political arena.
  • John McCormick The European Superpower (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Argues that the European Union has used soft power effectively to emerge as an alternative and as a competitor to the heavy reliance of the US on hard power.
  • Ian Manners, Normative Power Europe: A Contradiction in Terms?,
  • Matthew Fraser, Weapons of Mass Distraction: Soft Power and American Empire (St. Martin's Press, 2005). Analysis is focused on the pop culture aspect of soft power, such as movies, television, pop music, Disneyland, and American fast-food brands including Coca-Cola and McDonald's.
  • Middle East Policy Journal: Talking With a Region,
  • Salvador Santino Regilme, The Chimera of Europe's Normative Power in East Asia: A Constructivist Analysis Regilme, Salvador Santino Jr. (March 2011). "The Chimera of Europe's Normative Power in East Asia: A Constructivist Analysis" (PDF). Central European Journal of International and Security Studies. 5 (1): 69–90. 

External links[edit]