Europe

Author’s Note: This blog is the edited version of a speech I gave at the recent NATO conference on The Power of Soft Power.

When Joseph Nye first coined the term soft power over 20 years ago, the United States and Europe were in a different place than they are today.

One of the defining attributes of being in a center of global commerce and culture is the feeling you get when walking down the sidewalks. In London, I found the experience of strolling a few blocks from where I was staying to the downtown campus of UEA London, in large part along the fabled Brick Lane, to be a source of energy and inspiration.

BRUSSELS --- Since its founding in 1949, NATO has been a bastion of hard power, first as an alliance arrayed against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, and more recently as a manifestation of Western muscle in conflicts such as Kosovo in 1999 and Libya in 2011. Coming off its decisive performance in helping to end the rule of Muammar Qaddafi, NATO seems to be happily basking in macho glory.

APDS Blogger: Molly Krasnodebska

Throughout the last decade, no message was promoted stronger in the European Union than the idea of a new Europe, which has overcome its past of war and totalitarianism, and has emerged as a normative power standing for international cooperation, democracy, and human rights.

And yet when it comes to the recent events in Ukraine, discussed below, European soft power appears rather meager.

“Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam,” the exhibition at the British Museum that has drawn more than 80,000 visitors since it opened in late January is a remarkable achievement.

LONDON --- “Cultural diplomacy” has a nice ring to it; it brings to mind folk singing, dances around the Maypole, children’s finger-painting exhibitions, and other such feel-good exports that can make even global adversaries think kindly of each other, at least momentarily.

I am writing today from the world city of London.

Australia’s international policy portfolio has been left hanging after Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s surprise resignation from his post – announced from Mexico in the aftermath of the G20 meeting. Rudd’s resignation, a deliberate retaliation strike against the current Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the ruling Australian Labor Party for the unceremonious leadership coup they pulled off against him some 24 months ago, while fascinating to the political observer, is potentially devastating for Australia’s international image projection.

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