smart & soft power

While China’s presence and influence in Africa is well documented – especially regarding resource extraction – another element is increasingly becoming an important economic and political tool: traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese involvement in Africa has long included a prominent medical presence, with Beijing supporting medical efforts on the continent for decades. As China’s export capacity increased in the late 1990s and early 2000s

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that the upcoming Forum of Ancient Civilizations conference, hosted by Greece, will bring together countries with some of the world's oldest cultures to find ways of exercising soft power across the world.[...] The two-day conference is due to take place in the Greek capital of Athens on Sunday and will feature representatives from China, India, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia as well as Greece.

Our hyper-connected world has put more power in the hands of individuals and other non-state actors – from NGOs like Greenpeace to transnational terror groups like the so-called Islamic State. Over the past decade, foreign ministries have responded by becoming increasingly sophisticated in their communication strategies. Diplomats need to communicate directly with foreign publics to explain foreign policies, and to mobilize governments and civil society to support their aims.

Many view Europe as a spent force in global politics. Conventional wisdom states that world politics today is unipolar, with the United States as the sole superpower. Or perhaps it is multipolar, with China, India, and the rest rising to challenge Western powers. Either way, Europe's role is secondary - and declining. The European Union, it is said, is too weak to avoid withering away in the face of Russian subversion, mass migration, right-wing revolt, British plans to leave, slow growth, and anemic defense spending.

In the last 10 years, in light of China’s rise, the resurgence of Russia on the world stage, and the proliferation of non-state actors in the Middle East, the concept of soft power has taken on renewed significance. Definitions of it abound and expansions of the examples and explanations of its various forms are offered from across the academy. [...] The other major change affecting soft power definitions and policies is technological innovation. 

Trying to survive in our changing world over the past twenty years, many large and small countries have made certain attempts to adopt some foreign policy tools that were invented in the United States. The international community is most actively discussing the factor of "soft" or "smart" power, which has become an important element in maintaining, supporting and strengthening America's global leadership. 

Doing nothing when war crimes are committed is immoral. It is also bad policy. But a response to war crimes such as those perpetrated by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad must be more than a display of righteousness; it must become an element of a broader foreign policy initiative. This is the challenge facing the Trump administration after the missile strike launched by the United States 

Australia has been warned it's losing its global influence on the world stage due to lacklustre contributions to foreign aid and humanitarian efforts. "We kind of miss you. We miss Australia. Australia should be big influential, taking your space, helping with humanitarian (disasters)," former prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt told ABC's Q&A. Ms Thorning-Schmidt compared Australia's foreign aid contributions to those of the UK.

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