Besides governments talking to each other in formal and informal settings, soft power is comprised of programs and policies that have an impact on people’s lives. Examples include PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), President George Bush’s signature initiative to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS; the prestigious Fulbright program, which for 71 years has brought scholars to the U.S. and sent American scholars abroad to teach and study; and our role in providing humanitarian assistance to countries in crisis.
Greenland’s national assembly is to vote during its spring session next month on a measure that would see Nuuk open a representative office in Reykjavík. Nuuk already has such offices, which function in a similar capacity to embassies, in Copenhagen, Brussels and Washington. Iceland opened its own consulate in Nuuk in 2013, making it the first country to do so since the Second World War.
A hard-line strategy is not likely to persuade the DPRK regime to give up its missiles and nuclear weapons. Nor will it garner the support of the South Korean public, which is poised to elect a centrist or center-left president in the May 9 election. Most importantly, preemptive strikes or enhanced sanctions will delay ongoing economic reforms in North Korea and set back its integration into the global economy. Internal economic and social change is ultimately the only path to moderate the DPRK regime and its policies.
It is without a doubt pleasing to see that DFAT is on its way to progressing and further developing its digital diplomacy programmes, however, it is still a long way away from meeting the requirements it needs to influence people around the world, and increase the efficiency of its diplomats and enable them to adapt to a rapidly evolving technology and diplomatic space.
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
City diplomacy luminary and Attorney Michael Shuman, a leader of the former Center for Innovative Diplomacy, reminds us that local government participation in foreign affairs is enumerated in and protected by the Constitution. Thus, when American local governments responded to the threat of nuclear annihilation vis-à-vis the U.S. arms race with the Soviet Union, to the federal government’s inadequate response to Apartheid, and to other problems from the federal-level, the resultant municipal activism was not only legal, it was defining of American federalism.
One would not expect the secretary of defense routinely to inspect the sentries and walk point on patrols, but, in effect, that is what the secretary of state has to do. He is the chief executive of a department numbering in the tens of thousands, and a budget in the tens of billions; but he is also the country’s chief diplomat, charged with conducting negotiations and doing much of the detailed work of American foreign policy.