attraction

On the evolving concept of "soft power" and key challenges facing U.S. public diplomacy.

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September 11, 2015

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. 

North Korea’s approach to marketing itself to foreign visitors has often been contradictory, the product of competing bureaucracies and the changing whims of the leadership.  In this environment, North Korean authorities can often seem hungry for foreign visitors one minute, then going out of their way to frighten them off the next.

No-one has been more skeptical about Chinese soft power than Joseph Nye, the man who first coined the phrase twenty years ago. In particular, Nye has criticized Beijing’s efforts to acquire soft power through centralized schemes, like the spread of Confucius Institutes or the establishment at the end of last year of the China Public Diplomacy Association. Despite “spending billions of dollars to increase its soft power … China has had a limited return on its investment,” he recently argued.

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