France is this year’s top soft power, according to a report published Tuesday. The Soft Power 30, published by PR firm Portland Communications, ranks countries on their exercise of soft power — the ability to influence others through attraction and likability rather than coercion.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and its suspected hacking of French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign servers, should surprise no one, given President Vladimir Putin’s (mis)understanding of soft power. Before his re-election in 2012, Putin told a Moscow newspaper that “soft power is a complex of tools and methods to achieve foreign policy goals without the use of force, through information and other means of influence.”
On the evolving concept of "soft power" and key challenges facing U.S. public diplomacy.
This week’s public diplomacy news headlines showcased the role of soft power in seducing global publics.
Obviously, Putin fears European soft power, since it is a force to which he has no response. Russia’s lack of attraction is one of its most serious weak spots. Its leverage rests on its state-controlled extracting industries and its military.