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Soft and Hard Power

Soft Power and American Foreign Policy There is a growing anti-American sentiment across the globe. The Eurobarometer showed that Europeans think Americans tend to play a negative role in fighting poverty, protecting environment and maintaining peace. There is growing unpopularity amongst the youth of the world against the US. The US policy makers are not really concerned about this growing unpopularity because there is this notion that America is very strong. Because of this attitude American foreign policy also pays very little attention to soft power. * However, the US needs soft power for three reasons:

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It cannot tackle the new security threats with old security strategy. Example, while US was able to successfully topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after 9/11 it was not able to successfully over throw Al-Qeada which has presence in over 60 countries. * Unpopularity and disregard for softpower can have a negative effect on US image, which in turn can reduce its hard power. * In a growing global information age it is very important to have alliance across the globe. If the US keeps emphasizing on hard power it will become difficult for US to find alliances.

For example if a Swede hacks into the Pentagon the US needs the help of Sweden to extradite their citizens. However, if relationship with Sweden is not good then it becomes difficult for the US to tackle cyber warfare. In recent times neo-conservatives have taken over foreign policy where they have a desire to spread democracy. However, unlike their predecessors who emphasized on the building international institutions along with democracy promotion, neo-cons want to spread democracy with the use of hard power. According to Joseph Nye this is a wrong strategy.

However Nye states that all is not lost for the US and it can still overhaul its foreign policy. He suggests: a) Promote more economic development policy focused on the world’s poor. He credits George Bush for emphasizing long term assistance to African poor. b) To build alliance through international institutions. For example, the war in Kosovo had broad legitimacy and actually improved the image of US because US went through the security council where it got an overwhelming majority to go ahead with its plans. In the end Nye states that what the US needs is a Jeffersonian ideology towards foreign policy rather than a Jacksonian one.


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