Understanding soft power is an especially important venture today.Power in international relations has traditionally been defined and assessed in easily quantifiable ‘hard’ terms, often understood in the context of military and economic might. Hard power is deployed in the form of coercion: using force, the threat of force, economic sanctions, or inducements of payment. In contrast to the coercive nature of hard power, soft power describes the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives. Soft power shuns the traditional foreign policy tools of carrot and stick, seeking instead to achieve influence by building networks, communicating compelling narratives, establishing international rules, and drawing on the resources that make a country naturally attractive to the world.
Joseph Nye, the originator of the concept, initially set out three primary sources of soft power as he developed the concept. Nye’s three pillars of soft power are: political values, culture, and foreign policy. But within these three categories, the individual sources of soft power are manifold and varied.
“A country’s soft power is its ability to make friends and influence people – not through military might, but through its most attractive assets notably culture, education, language and values. In short, it is the things that make people love a country rather than fear it; things that are often the products of people, institutions and brands rather than governments.”
WHY SOFT POWER IS IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER :
For a start, the world is increasingly multipolar and hyper-connected, with wealth, power and information being ever more widely diffused. The rise of democracy, social media and direct action mean governments must be increasingly responsive to national and global public opinion. Mass peer-to-peer international cultural contact is on the increase and is changing the nature of cultural relations. Increasing diffusion of information and opportunity due to the internet and digitalisation is leading to a greater diffusion of influence and hence a greater role for soft power, which is largely outside the direct control of governments.
Finally, many of the major challenges of the twenty first century – such as terrorism, mass migration, climate change and infectious diseases (.like CORONAVIRUS)– are global in range and indeed exacerbated by globalisation and technological progress. Soft power and influence is key to building the global coalitions needed to tackle these challenges and ensuring respect for the rules-based international system in general. Prevention – which the persuasive force of soft power does particularly well – is usually better than cure.
Given the nature of current challenges, soft power is more critical than ever to securing national interest. Building friendship and understanding between peoples enhances a state’s security, underpinning peaceful co-existence. It supports the deepening of diplomatic ties, the sharing of knowledge and expertise, the smooth conduct of commerce, and co-operation on shared areas of interest. It can also fulfill a practical role in strengthening institutions and civil society and stimulating the economic prosperity and medical/ health prosperity fundamental to bringing development to fragile states.
SOFT POWER IN THE PRESENT GLOBAL SCENARIO :
Soft Power is a very useful and essential during times like the present Coronavirus Pandemic . With wide spread of this disease and essential lockdowns globally, no country would be able to show its hard power to form alliances with each other to overcome this pandemic . Thus soft power which processes through cultural and social influence , will help India and global countries to ensure cooperation among themselves to stop further spread and help with medical supplies. For example , India having one of the top global pharmaceutical Industries will show its soft power through supply of medicines in this Global medical emergency situation.
Soft power has always been a key element of leadership. The power to attract—to get others to want what you want, to frame the issues, to set the agenda—has its roots in thousands of years of human experience. Skillful leaders have always understood that attractiveness stems from credibility and legitimacy. Power has never flowed solely from the barrel of a gun; even the most brutal dictators have relied on attraction as well as fear.
When the United States paid insufficient attention to issues of legitimacy and credibility in the way it went about its policy on Iraq, polls showed a dramatic drop in American soft power. That did not prevent the United States from entering Iraq, but it meant that it had to pay higher costs in the blood and treasure than would otherwise have been the case. Similarly, if Yasser Arafat had chosen the soft power model of Gandhi or Martin Luther King rather than the hard power of terrorism, he could have attracted moderate Israelis and would have a Palestinian state by now. As said at the start that leadership is inextricably intertwined with power. Leaders have to make crucial choices about the types of power that they use. Woe be to followers of those leaders who ignore or devalue the significance of soft power.