Soft power is the opposite of hard power. It is the ability to attract, persuade, and co-opt instead of coercing. Soft power shifts and influence preference through attraction and appeal. The defining feature of soft power is non-coercive culture, foreign policies, and political values. The word has been used in modern times to influence and change public and social opinions through less transparent lobbying by political and non-political organizations. Some countries prefer the use of diplomatic means to solve disagreements rather than the barrel of the gun and economic sanctions. Soft power can also be exercised through strategic communication, civic action, funding, foreign assistance, and infrastructural development.
Countries With The Most Soft Power
The United Kingdom leads the world in soft power diplomacy. It is closely followed by France, Germany, United States, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Australia in that order. The United Kingdom edged out France to reclaim the spot it lost in 2016. The return of the UK to the top spot surprises many diplomats, commentators, and analysts considering the Brexit negotiations that have dominated headlines and the entire bandwidth of the United Kingdom's government has made very little progress. As a result, there are question marks over the country's relationship with the European Union, the long-time consequences of Brexit and the role of the United Kingdom in the global scene thereafter. The British Council has been influential in cultivating soft power through educational and cultural engagement while the BBC World Service remains a valuable soft power asset for the United Kingdom.
After leaping from fifth to the first place in 2017, France slid to second place in 2018, but the margin between the United Kingdom and France is razor-thin. France derives soft power strength from vast diplomatic networks and unrivaled membership to international and multilateral organizations. The country has the highest number of the foreign cultural mission. France also performs excellently in art, film, food, tourism, and sports. In 2017, France's soft power received a boost after the election of the globally minded, energetic, and reforming president Emmanuel Macron.
Germany moved from the fourth position in 2017 to third in 2018. The improvement was fuelled by development in education and enterprise indices. Germany is globally respected for high-quality manufacturing, and engineering prowess showcased through infrastructure and assembly. Germany is viewed as the primary force in European affairs, and the state plays a decisive role in maintaining a stable European Union. The 2017 elections proved the downfall of Germany as the country inability to solve the election stalemate in a short period showcased her vulnerabilities
Trends In Global Soft Power
The rise of populist protection and the shift in global power dynamics are threats to liberal international order, but the radical change in the American foreign policy has generated the lion's share of concern. China, Russia, and the European Union are challenging the traditional global role of the United States as the preeminent champion of international order. Soft power has also acquired a new role as a tool for sealing long-lasting relationships between economies. China’s diplomatic relations with Africa is viewed as a tool for dislodging the West from the continent as China continues to pump billions of dollars in infrastructural development and financial loans.