Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 10:25:32 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

'Soft power' Vs 'Sharp powers' debate

By
08th-Feb-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Christopher Walker  :
Russia and China tend to do poorly in global public opinion surveys and indices of soft power, reinforcing the notion that attraction and persuasion are incompatible with authoritarianism
In recent years, Russia and China have poured considerable resources into arenas typically associated with "soft power," a term coined by the American political scientist Joseph S. Nye and understood as the "ability to affect others by attraction and persuasion." Either directly or through compliant surrogates, these two countries have devoted billions of dollars to increasing their global influence through media, culture, think tanks, academia, and other spheres.
Despite these immense investments, however, observers -including Nye himself - have scratched their heads, wondering why these authoritarian regimes continue to suffer a deep soft-power deficit, even as they have grown more assertive internationally.
Russia and China tend to do poorly in global public opinion surveys and indices of soft power, reinforcing the notion that attraction and persuasion are incompatible with authoritarianism. Internationally, autocrats are not "winning hearts and minds."
Nonetheless, Russia, China, and other well-resourced and ambitious regimes are projecting more influence beyond their borders than at any time in recent memory - and not principally through what Nye calls "hard power": military might or raw economic coercion.
To be sure, Russia has used military force with some frequency in the last decade - in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, for example. But Russia's fighter jets and tanks are not driving Moscow's global surge in influence. Similarly, China is flexing its military muscles in the South China Sea and along its disputed border with India.
But, like Russia, China has been far more active using other forms of influence over the last decade.
Theorists are therefore in a bind: these regimes are not relying chiefly on hard power, are unsuccessful at generating soft power, but are still able to project real influence abroad. Given the resurgence of authoritarianism around the world, it is an opportune time to reflect on this apparent paradox. The Financial Times recently observed that in China's "efforts to build soft power outside its borders," the country "needs to tread more lightly and take a more reciprocal and less authoritarian approach." In a recent commentary, Nye makes the similar observation that "China could generate more soft power if it would relax some of its tight party control over civil society."
The same could be said of Russia and other countries with governments that prioritise state control over openness, independent culture, and civil society - all of which are crucial ingredients of soft power.
But such exhortations to Chinese or Russian authorities are bound to fall on deaf ears. Any significant liberalization would contradict these regimes' own political needs and objectives to retain control at any cost.
The analytical trap is to assume that authoritarian governments, which suppress political pluralism and free expression in order to maintain power at home, would be inclined to act differently internationally. These regimes have shrewdly adopted some of the forms, but not the substance, of soft power.
What they pursue is better understood as "sharp power," whose key attributes are outward-facing censorship, manipulation, and distraction, rather than persuasion and attraction.
While "information warfare" forms a part of the authoritarians' repertoire, it is by itself an inadequate description of sharp power.
Much activity undertaken by authoritarian regimes - whether it is China in Latin America, or Russia in Central Europe - falls outside of this definition, as colleagues and I detailed in a December 2017 report, "Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence."
With hindsight, we can see the misconception that took hold at the end of the Cold War, when conventional analysis assumed that authoritarian regimes would liberalize and democratize.
Nearly three decades ago, when the United States emerged from the Cold War as a global hegemon and the term soft power was introduced, political analysts did not take sufficient account of regimes like the ones in control of Russia and China today.
As my colleague Jessica Ludwig and I wrote in Foreign Affairs in November, "the democracies' complacency concerning the evolution of malign, sharp power has been informed by their reliance on the soft power paradigm." Analysts who view the authoritarians' behavior in terms of efforts "to boost their countries' soft power are missing the mark and risk perpetuating a false sense of security."

(Christopher Walker is Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Eid Mubarak


THE rituals of the annual congregation of Muslims in the holiest city Mecca to perform the religious obligatory have begun with devotion, piety, and cheer that ended into Eid-ul-Azha. The Eid comes to the life of 1.5 billion adherents of Islam when a majority of the followers are undergoing political ...

Sports »

Djokovic wins Cincy title to complete Masters matched set


AFP, Cincinnati :Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx, lifting the trophy in Cincinnati at last to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles.Djokovic, who came up empty in five prior Cincinnati finals, defeated seven-time winner Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final.The former world number one became the first ...

Entertainment »

Rawnak and Urmila in play ‘Boro Bol Chhoto Bol’ on Channel i at 7:50pm before Eid day


.

City »

Law enforcers seen to cheque documents of the motorized vehicles to ensure safe road. The snap was taken from in front of the city's Rajdhani Super Market on Monday.


.

International »

Indians begin massive cleanup as rains diminish in Kerala


Reuters, Kochi :Indian health authorities prepared defenses against the spread of disease in flood-hit Kerala state on Monday as water receded and a huge clean-up gathered pace after the worst floods in a century killed more than 200 people.Incessant rain since Aug. 8 in the southern state has swelled rivers ...

Editorial »

Growing violence in hills: No serious investigation into the killings


Seven people, including three leaders of United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), were killed and six others injured in two gun attacks in Khagrachhari town on Saturday. With these, 33 people have so far been killed in violence in Rangamati and Khagrachhari this year. The UPDF alleged that it was a ...

Football »

Messi, Coutinho get Barcelona off to winning start


AFP, Madrid :Two goals from Lionel Messi either side of a Philippe Coutinho strike allowed Barcelona to start their defence of the Spanish title with a 3-0 win over Alaves at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.Wearing the captain's armband following the departure of Andres Iniesta to Japan, Messi stepped ...

Entertainment »

I like to do something that challenges me: Jennifer Winget


Bepannaah actress Jennifer Winget likes to challenge herself with each of her projects. “I like to do something that challenges me. I like to do something different from my previous characters,” Jennifer told IANS. “I have been fortunate enough to be offered characters and projects that challenge me and that ...

City »

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon speaking at a gathering of cleaners on quick disposal of wastes of sacrificial animals yesterday.


.

International »

Russian President Putin steals the show at Austrian FM`s wedding


Reuters, Vienna :Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm-in-arm with Austria's foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding on Saturday, after receiving an invitation that opposition critics said undermined the West's stance against Moscow.Mr Putin arrived in a car carrying a bouquet of flowers and accompanied, local media said, by a ...

Editorial »

Sanctions by USA and European Union are welcome but more effective measures will be needed


IN the latest development, the US Treasury on Friday slapped sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders and two army units for involvement in "ethnic cleansing" and other human rights abuses against the country's Rohingya minority. In response to Myanmar's crackdown on the Rohingyas, the sanctions are so far ...

Sports »

Bolt arrives in Australia on football quest


Usain Bolt says he's deadly serious about becoming a professional footballer and plans to show the world what he's capable of after arriving in Australia Saturday for a trial stint with an A-League club.The superstar athlete has been given the chance to prove his worth by the Central Coast Mariners, ...

Entertainment »

Sonali Bendre`s son posts an emotional message


Family and close friends of Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre have come out as the biggest support in her journey of fighting cancer. The actress who has been diagnosed with high-grade cancer is undergoing her treatment in New York. Being a true fighter, Sonali has not shied away from sharing her ...

Entertainment »

Poet Shamsur Rahman's 12th death anniversary observed


Entertainment Desk : The 12th death anniversary of Shamsur Rahman, one of the major poets in modern Bengali literature, was observed on Friday in a befitting manner.Marking the anniversary, different socio-cultural organisations placed wreaths at the grave of the poet at Banani graveyard and arranged Doa Mahfil.Jatiya Kabita Parishad and Kabi ...

City »

BNP Vice-Chairman Advocate Khondkar Mahbub Hossain speaking at a discussion on 'Next National Election Under Interrogation Without Reform of Election Commission' organised by 'Chetona Bangladesh' at the Jatiya Press Club on Saturday.


 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news