Soft Power in ASIA Pacific
First and foremost let’s begin by first defining power. Power is the ability to influence one’s behavior through either force or soft appeal to get them to oblige you or get what you require from them. Power is distinctively divided into two categories which are hard power and soft power. Hard power is the use of force to influence one’s decisions concerning a particular subject through threats or even payment. Hard power uses coercion.
On the other hand, soft power is the use of soft appeal or co-opting an organization or even a whole country to get them to work with you in achieving what you want. Soft power uses a variety of forces which are often at one’s disposable. These effects include the strength of belief, the force of compulsion and the power of cultural difference. Seeing that soft power is a tact which incorporates appealing to people with different ideas, these effects are often used to help shape their preferences by what you want.
The History of Soft Power
Soft power has been there since long though in the ancient times there wasn’t a formal term for it yet. If you look into history, you’ll find out that soft power has been a weapon wielded for long and it was as fruitful then as it is now. For instance, the Falange, which was a women section of the Spanish fascist party, organized choir and dance groups which traveled all the way from Wales to West Africa singing folk songs which enhanced further the world know of their culture. Through international relations, a government uses soft power through creating policies which are acceptable not only to them but also to other many countries as well as public diplomacy. This causes attraction to other nations. Through creating a sound reputation for a country, the country can then influence others to follow in its steps.
Also, the Vatican, an image of the western Catholic Christianity based on the authoritative Institute of the papal power has the most powerful tool of belief and compulsion. As mentioned before, the power of coercion is incorporated into the use of soft power. The Vatican, through the utilization of the power of belief and pressure, has been able to spread wide the particular Catholic church. The power of faith and obsession is great seeing as to how wide spread the Catholic Church is.
In the 1930s, there were cultural exchanges between Italy and the Germany. This provided a common ground between the Germans and the Italians, causing them to relate well with each other. Aldo, after 1933, the Nazi regime shaped the Weimar-era cultural organizations and relationships to its very own purpose.
Presently, the use of soft power is more common than the use of hard power. For instance, the US through providing aid to most countries in Africa through their well know organization the US-aid which works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient less developed democratic societies to realize their potential through empowering them.
Soft Power and Diplomacy
Well, since we are talking about soft power, why don’t we talk about it as it’s not little role it plays in both public and cultural diplomacy. Now, before we venture any further into this, let me first begin with saying, diplomacy is a principle call dictated by the society on what’s right or wrong. Diplomacy is also known as tact. If you are asking, how does diplomacy relate with soft power? Well, I have the answer right here for you. You see, in public relations tact is everything. How you deliver whatsoever, you are offering dictates how the public will react to it and thus diplomacy is highly recommended.
As I said before, soft power is all about appealing to people’s preferences, so naturally, tact is required. As a tool of public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy is a great asset. Culture has been widely used over the years to share knowledge. Culture as a soft power resource can mold or shape people’s preferences In a way many other resources can’t. Seeing as that culture produces an attraction to other countries, a country could lose or gain power as a result of their cultural practices. Cultural diplomacy is entirely dependent on the people preferences. Preference itself is incorporeal and thus associated with intangible assets such as an attractive personality, culture, political values and policies that are seen as legitimate or having the moral authority to the public eye.
The ability of a country to be able to present its culture in a way that will be not only acceptable to them but other countries increases its chances of gaining power. Soft power from cultural diplomacy results from the values that a country or an organization expresses in their culture. Here’s a point to note. Soft power is a very delicate tool, and it needs to be wielded wisely. A little misinformation and it could all come crashing down, all you’ve put days, weeks, months or even years building.
The conveyance of information from one station to another also is entailed in the presenting an entire morally right culture, and misinformation should be avoided at all cost. In our very developed, modernized world, technologies have been build which makes the passing of information from one place to another a straightforward task thus making information available in abundance. This, however, brought about a not so defined draw back but yes, draw back all the same. You see, in availing information about something you create awareness for it, and in doing so, you cause people’s attention to rivet to it. But when there is too much of the information it becomes hard to get the attention, so one has to stand out, be distinct even.
In matters of public diplomacy, information is also compassionate, and it should be well monitored. Possession of right information can also result in soft power. For example, apart from its penchant for innovation, China often has access to rare information other countries take for granted and thus having the upper hand.
Soft power is a tactic used all over the world and has its benefits. The Asia Pacific is no different from all the other countries and also incorporates the use of soft power as an effective measure to get what they want.
The use of soft power has some benefits, not counting the lack of use of which could lead to losing possible allies. A country or an organization uses soft power to achieve some means. The used of soft power in the Asia Pacific is for some reasons which I’m going to list down for you.
1. Forge Alliances
As mentioned so many times, soft power does not involve coercing or use of threats but rather an appeal to a person’s preference. In doing so, a country or an organization can mold an opinion. The likeliness of this changing fast is a huge gamble, and thus through soft power, one can create forge alliances. This can be attained through many ways. For example, Japan is a major aid donor. As we all know, charity puts one on the people’s right radar. Japan, in giving out donations helps garner other countries gratitude, especially from the countries it helps, respect from other nations and from time to time admiration. Admittedly, we all want to look good in the eye of the public, and you’ll find some countries trying to emulate the good example Japan has set. In doing so, these countries may also reach out to Japan to ally in helping other countries and in so doing allying with the two nations. Nation alliances help in times of war and natural calamities as well as other occasions when one’s ally is in need.
2. Build Economy
Power is power no matter how attained. Soft power when one appeals to one’s preference they manipulative it, making them want the same thing they do. For instance, if a country appeals to another country’s preference concerning their goods, the country would naturally want to buy these products thus providing foreign exchange to this particular country. The currency attained helps in building the country’s economy. Also, countries with rich cultures attract lots of tourists who assist in the construction of the country’s economy. For instance, Florence in Italy is well known for its housing of different precious works of art, beginning with great works of Renaissance art from famous artists such as Dante Alighieri to Giorgio Vasari to great architecture such as the Duomo as well as the sculpture of David. Florence, for its abundance of so many tourist attractions, is usually teeming with tourists which no doubt boosts the economy of the city as well as the country.
3. Create Good Relations
The lack of using force or threats to soft power sits well with a lot of people, organizations, and nations. With the use of tact, there is the ease of creating good relations between groups, individuals as well as nations. In the use of soft power, co-opting is used, giving one a sense of taking an active part in the transactions. Also, soft power allows for the display of real values, art, science and culture which can help in building up an organization or a country. The lack of building hostility between the two parties involved helps in enhancing the good relations between both the parties. Not to mention the acceptance of other people’s values creates a bond between them thus strengthening their relationships with each other.
4. International Influence
Power and leadership are two things that entwined together in that you can’t have one without the other. Soft power, attained through one’s ability to shape others preferences to get what they want is a tool that is wish used by governments, organizations and even individual to create international influence. How? You might ask. Well, you will have to understand what international authority is. Global control incorporates all kind of influence beginning from political influence to economic influence to cultural influence. The world is said to be internationally influential if it has the political, social and cultural impact on the countries closer to it as well as across the world.
International influence can be achieved through offering donations, sharing a vibrant culture and also through the development of great technology. For example, the US has many charities dedicated to Third World countries to fighting hunger, poverty as well as help them develop. It also funds a lot of projects.
The Concept of Soft Power
The term soft power was first used in the year 1990 by a Harvard University professor Joseph Nye who suggested the use of public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and other useful means such as science and the arts to attract other countries and somehow manage to convince them to want the same thing you wanted. In an attempt to help you understand the concept of the ambiguity of the idea of the use of soft power, let me take you back to the drawing board. Initially, we said that power could be earned through two way, one who is through coercion and is known as soft power while the second way is through appealing to people’s ideas and opinions and somehow molding their preferences to match yours to achieve a similar goal.
Soft power is a way of attaining authority without risking things such as disagreements or war. This concept relies on culture which entails things such as literature, music such as folk songs and traditional dances which would, with no doubt, include the use of regular wear and lastly the arts which offer excellent education about a particular place or person. Political values are not left aside. These values should not only be acceptable to the country but also to the other nations you wish to relate with. On the matter of foreign policy, these policies, seeing as that affects your associates should be legitimate with a high moral authority.
Soft Power and Global Governance
Global governance is the influence of international institutions and their multilateral processes on economic development, peace and security, human rights, and the preservation of the environment. Soft power is a reliable tool on the issue of global governance as about what the global governance is all about; it involves the powerful capability of a nation or nations to shape others preferences. In such light a nation or even nations can and have used soft power to influence their interactions with the global governance, for example, China and India seek global influence through their economic weight. As it’s widely known, China and India are two very densely populated nations, thus, through the use of their economic weight, as well as their both rich cultures undoubtedly, helps boost them up the soft power radar.
Although numerous researchers show that China’s soft power is below the expected standards, it’s good to reflect on the nation’s power and how they choose to wield it. China does not lack in soft power, and neither does it fall far off from what is expected of it. Rather, China has a unique way of using its power. It’s true that soft power allows one to manipulate others decisions making them make choices they wouldn’t have carried out without the interference but the approaches differ and so do their objectives.
China’s soft power is not directed to show the country’s superiority or even attracting other skills to the Chinese system. Rather, the nation seems to have a different approach in how they have built their objectives of a just international system and this should not, by all means, be compared to the parameters of the other super powers as we all have different approaches that eventually lead to a single goal. To say, contrary to popular belief that China is a power that punches below its weight, China has made progress in the global governance over the years, only that their approach is entirely different from the US approach and should therefore not be judged using the same parameters.
Soft Power as an Instrument of Policy
Soft power is often used as an instrument of policy, especially foreign policy. To put it in a clearer light, as a tool of policy, soft power helps guide in decision making and achieving a rational outcome. For instance, the use of education as a measure of foreign policy in countries has increased immensely over the years. Major powers pay attention and importance to education through inventing school based programs such as virtual training which helps one in interacting with people all over the world despite the geographical difference.
Also, the giving of aid to other countries is also an effective way to soft power in that in doing so the state gets enough credit. For example, The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is mandated to reduce poverty overseas, also, the USAID a government funded organization also aims at reducing poverty in Africa through offering food donations as well as clothing. In addition to the aid provided, the USAID also works to enable these countries to find their potential through empowering them.
Effective Soft Power Strategies
As any weapon of power, soft power cannot just be blindly used, but several strategies are often used. These procedures may include the rise of popular culture. For example, Korean wave has significantly increased the Korean soft power as it caused an increased funding of the fast growing soft culture. The government took advantage of the growing Korean popularity to enhance its social standing, international reputation and the national image thus shaping foreigners’ attitude and preferences towards Korea as a nation and also other countries choices on issues of importance to Korea.
Korea’s expertise in information technology has allowed the state to aggressively market their popular culture through uploading videos as well as audios to YouTube and sharing them worldwide. The Asia Pacific region, of course, has the most fans of the new Korean pop culture which has now become widely distributed all over the world through the use of social media.
Education diplomacy is also used as a soft power strategy in that in sharing the same educational views; nations can build or work towards a similar goal from the word go. For example, westernization in Africa has led to Africa adopting many values from the west as well as emulating their way of life.
One can also use the availability of natural resources such as geographical features, wildlife and a rich culture to build their soft power. South Africa is a wealthy country with a culture which increases the elastic strength of the country. China also used its rich culture as a soft power over other nations. Mandarin, China’s language which would be the country’s biggest obstacle, has somehow been turned around with Chinese language classes spreading around the world making China rise as both a political and economic force.
The Chinese culture, rich in exotic foods is also embraced in very many countries increasing the country’s popularity with other nations. The Chinese lack of democracy in the political regime, cause a backdrop of the country’s soft power as well as its known use of hard power history. But where it lacks in those things, China compensates with its right culture and knack for innovation.
Like all ways of garnering power, soft power is no exception in that it comes along with its very own limitations too. Critics say that power is a delusional tactic and it does not, more often than not, provide one with the required results. Soft power, rather than the hard power is an effective tactic which will need a lot of input from the country or individual that wants to gain power over others. It also requires a lot of patience which is a virtue many people do not possess.
In the subject of patience, soft power requires a lot of time as it is a delicate process that requires shaping people’s ideas and changing their opinions which are not exactly an easy task. This whole process is time-consuming, and even after waiting for so long, one may not be able to achieve their desired results.
A political scientist’s Colin S Gray observes that as much as soft power is great in creating good public relations, it can in no way compensate for military force in that every once in a while a threat will appear which will need the use of military force to neutralize. Also, the use of soft power does not guarantee anything, and thus long term results are unpredictable.
Soft power is a useful means of creating good relations between organizations and nations as well, incorporated in all institutions and should be practiced globally to increase good relations as well as interactions between countries all over the world.