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Wed Jul 15, 2020, 04:37 AM

Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields

JULY 14, 2020

by B. NIMRI AZIZ

I suspect most Americans would approve of what they understand to be this nation’s global cultural reach as expressed through its ‘soft power’. A term coined by an American political scientist, soft power “involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction”. Contrasted with coercive measures, it’s achieved largely through cultural means, although nevertheless a feature of foreign policy. Probably as old as politics itself.

Soft power politics are long-term, sociable and gentle. (Certainly nothing dangerous!) To say that they’re ideologically driven would be guileless. Some definitions are less circumspect, describing soft power as “using positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives”. When at work domestically, it may be akin to kneeling-softly-on-the-neck, persuading Americans how this is a land of equality and unparalleled freedom.

U.S. citizens may even consider America’s soft power abroad with pride: “This is how we’re helping others– securing democratic principles, sharing advanced (sic) intellectual, medical and cultural resources. American films, so popular (and lucrative) globally, augmented by satellite-enabled news and entertainment channels are, I would argue, among the most effective examples of this power. Music and literature cannot be excluded too.

Boosting commercially-driven exports are government-funded programs like Peace Corps, high school scholarships, youth exchanges, anthropological research and conferences. All proceed at an undiminished pace, whichever party rules. These programs also carry that ‘cold light of reason’ imparted to foreign peoples held to be short on ‘objectivity’ or ‘reason’. Implicit in this largesse is an intellectual and aesthetic superiority on the part of the donor.

More:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/07/14/soft-power-americans-in-its-grip-at-home-must-face-the-mischief-it-wields-by-bnimri-aziz-july-11-2020/

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