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Old November 19th, 2012, 04:27 AM   #1

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Soft Power


The Monocle Magazine came out with its annual rankings of the most influential nations in terms of soft power. The top five are:

1. UK
2. USA
3. Germany
4. France
5. Sweden

The USA lost its top spot to the UK this year.

Hard power deals with the use of coercion and payment as an exercise of its national influence while soft power is defined as:

"a country [obtaining] the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries – admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness – want to follow it. In this sense, it is also important to set the agenda and attract others in world politics, and not only to force them to change by threatening military force or economic sanctions. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes that you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them."

Soft_power Soft_power


Do you agree with the Monocle list and what do you think of the concept of soft power?

Last edited by Aulus Plautius; November 19th, 2012 at 05:16 AM. Reason: Clarfication
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:10 AM   #2
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Germany, France, and Sweden?

A case could be made for France as far as the West is concerned, and maybe for Germany in a limited way, but Sweden? I disagree with this list. And I think the U.S. should be on the top followed by the UK followed by Russia. And that's where my list ends (out of ignorance)...

Last edited by Rosi; November 19th, 2012 at 05:22 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:22 AM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosi View Post
Germany, France, and Sweden?

A case could be made for France as far as the West is concerned, and maybe for Germany in a limited way, but Sweden? No way. I disagree with this list. And I think the U.S. should be on the top followed by the UK followed by Russia. And that's where my list ends...
I agree with you. I don't see Sweden being more influential than Russia, China, or Spain and Italy for that matter.

The UK topped the USA this year largely because of the Olympics, Bradley Wiggins and Andrew Murray.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:27 AM   #4

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Might Sweden actually mean Scandanavia because they are often seen as countries that do things 'well' and are regularly top in 'Idicators' of this and that, health care for instance.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:29 AM   #5

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Since we are talking about examples to emulate:

For the long term good combination of living and economic standards:
- Netherlands
- Sweden
For how to deal with a financial crisis:
- Iceland
For its democratic culture and because it is the most capable country of projecting its culture around the world:
- USA
Good examples for aspirers to become emerging economies or even others:
- India
- China
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:31 AM   #6

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Sweden seems a strange choice, but how is power measured anyway? Especially soft power... Doesn't the use of hard power diminish soft power? If so countries like the US and Russia are out. India with the Kashmir issues - out. China with Tibet - out. Japan could be on such a list. And why not Sweden? Is there anything to hate about Sweden? They're rich, tall, blond and handsome. Okay that's four reasons to hate 'em, but apart from that they're not doing anybody any harm.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinmeath View Post
Might Sweden actually mean Scandanavia because they are often seen as countries that do things 'well' and are regularly top in 'Idicators' of this and that, health care for instance.
That alone does not indicate a country's 'soft power' though. The way I understand the concept, soft power is about the power a country exerts via its cultural reach/presence, influencing others in terms of ideas, innovations, etc. America with its Hollywood, fast food, and the biggest corporates in the world is clearly at the top. Britain is also at near top because of the influence it has had worldwide (the English language, its literature, its rock music, etc.). Sweden does not bring to mind anything on a similar scale.

Or it is possible that I'm misinformed about the idea of 'soft power'.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:16 AM   #8

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I think that there is some misunderstanding of "Soft Power" here.
The idea is of the ablity of a country to influence other countries or even world events by factors other than military power, or economic coercion.
The prime instruments are supposedly, diplomacy, civic action, and foreign assitance, but practically speaking it is more about charisma, respect and the projection of a positive cultural image.
Sweden, a country of less than ten millions is always held up as the paradigm of social responsibily, economic equality, peacefulness and clean streets. The sort of place people would like their country to be like.
The USA on the other hand has the absolute whip hand on projecting its cultural image through domination of international media, but it is not always positve or respected. The US for instance gives more aid to the rest of the world than anyone else, yet places like Sweden and Norway get the applause.
Britain is on a bit of roll at the moment thanks to the Olympics and politicans racking up the frequent flier miles--won't last though.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:18 AM   #9

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I would also add that by region soft power can vary. In Latin America, I can't imagine that Sweden, France, Germany or even the UK would have as much soft power influence as Spain, Italy or Brazil.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 09:48 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aulus Plautius View Post
Do you agree with the Monocle list and what do you think of the concept of soft power?
I think Monocle definition of soft power is completely flawed in the first place. List they come up with is then inevitably wrong.

Soft power is ability to influence and control without direct threat or use of force.

Soft power is ability to use media, propaganda, coercion, bribery, information manipulation, money to make other countries do what you want them to do. Example of exercise of soft power are so called colour revolutions.

And ranking of countries according to soft power should be:

1. USA
2. USA
3. USA

...and somewhere far, far behind anybody else.
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