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Why U.S. “Soft Power” Is Fake and Losing


A little while ago, U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton wrote a book about her understanding of “Smart Power”, which in a nutshell is the new way of U.S. foreign policy of “balancing” Hard powers with “Soft powers”.

Much of the US switch toward “soft powers” is being discussed in recent Obama years.  But as more of it is exposed to actual PRACTICE, US (and Western) “soft powers” is looking more and more like the Hard powers that they are supposed to balance, and thus some thing of a forgery and pretense are being exposed, and less credibility and “influence” will surely follow.

The strongest evidence of the existence of U.S. (and Western) “soft powers” is the often seen polls in the Western media of the Image of U.S. being admired all over the world, the culture of Hollywood, Music, fashion, Gadgets, etc., in other words, the culture of new ideas freely flowing.

In comparison, China seemed devoid of such “new ideas”, and its influence is apparently limited to the attraction of money.

More than the likes of Hillary have pointed to such polls as evidence of the new US “soft powers” working in the world.  The logic is, no matter how much money people want, in the end, they will want to be like Americans!  Thus, U.S. influence will grow.

But what is this ultimate “influence” that US will gain?  That others will do what US want?  The hope and the logic are that the other nations will THINK like Americans, have American “values”, and thus more likely to do what Americans would want them to do in the first place.  “I love you too”!!  Every one sing along camp fire!  Miracle of “Soft Powers”.

Attractive as the plan, the harsh reality contradicts it even from within US itself (and Western Europe).

For what is the American “Values”??!  No one can say for sure.  And EVERYONE in US has a different version of it.  And many Americans are at other Americans’ throats about which one is the right one.  (So even if the Rest of the world adopts American “values”, they won’t likely agree with Americans, or each other.  Thus, that camp fire won’t have much singing along, and it would more likely be a burning cross, or a book burning, which are still happening in US!)

Still not convinced?!  Let’s look at some recent events of self-evident view of US “values” and “soft powers”:

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney is a personification of “value controversies” in US today.

(1) He’s Mormon.  (Nothing wrong with that in my view.  I have Mormon friends.)

But many even in his own Republican parties do not accept his religion as “Christian” or “Christian enough”.  So apparently, MANY Christian Americans have some kind of Pecking Order of “values”, where Mormons are considered “lesser Christians” or “not real Christians” (quoted from American Christians).

(2) Mormons apparently had some kind of ritual recently, where they went to some Jewish cemetery and “posthumously baptized” dead Jewish people into Christianity, in order to apparently save their souls.  So, some Mormons have a Pecking order of their own, where Jewish people are in the wrong religion.

(3) Romney just went to UK, and complained about their handling of Olympics setup.  Another Pecking order.  Americans do things better than their British friends.

(4) Romney also went to Israel on the same trip, and contrasted the living standard between Israelis and Palestinians, as evidence of the better “culture” values of the Jewish people.  Pecking order by “cultural values”.

“Soft Powers” eh??!

It seems to me, they can call it “values”, “culture”, etc., but it is still sounds like same old PREJUDICE, where an empire promotes some kind of Pecking order to enslave others, based upon how close one resembles some idealized version of the mainstream majority in the Empire.

There is NOTHING new about these ideas.  Just now, instead of beads and trinkets, the price of new slavery is songs, plays, and other senses.

It’s “Bread and Circuses”, minus the BREAD!!

Perhaps “slavery” is too harsh?  I would argue, the Pecking order in the new US “Soft power” policies is the very evidence of a plan of “slavery” by the Empire, by self-admission.  And the Americans show it all the time now in their foreign policies.

Even Allies are placed on the Pecking order of American “values”.  In other words, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t even matter how much you admire US’s “values”.  It’s all about who YOU are relative to the US “values”/culture, in whatever prejudicial biased ignorant view the Americans may have of YOU!  Because as long as you are very different in “value”, your actions will always be tainted and suspect, and your loyalty questioned.

And yes, the new “soft power” is very aggressive and hard, because even Americans will admit, they will fight and defend and kill for their “values”.  Right or wrong, the Pecking order is emotional, guttural, and self-influencing more than influencing others.  (Hey, you might dismiss their “values” as academic, but for Americans, it’s who they are, and thus your dismissal is at least partially insulting!)

Then the question is, What about China?

Does China have “values”?  Not according to US.  Chinese people, US would have you believe, are money grabbing unethical heathens.  Partially because apparently, Chinese, despite having so many living in other nations, doing businesses, etc., are not eager to display their “values” openly.  They are not particularly religious, sometimes mixing many religions with their own myths and legends.

China is trying to promote “Confucius” abroad, but there is no Conversions of any kind.  If you read Confucius and can speak some Chinese, apparently, that satisfies the “cultural promotion” agenda.

China does have preferences for nations who agrees with China’s diplomatic positions relating to territorial and sovereignty claims (over Taiwan, Tibet, South China sea, etc.).  But that’s just action-based diplomacy, ie. you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

If you boil down to it, if soft power is “bread and circuses”, US’s “soft power” is all Circuses, and China is mostly Bread.

And I would wager, most people, if coming down to it, would rather have Bread (then perhaps Circuses).

And if you are inclined to be influenced by one or the other, most people would rather choose to become Bread-winners than Circus-clowns (who might be good for a laugh now and then, but you wouldn’t want your kids to become one, frankly).

To top it off, US’s “Smart power” is even more ridiculous.  It’s like arming a bunch of Circus-clowns!

Figuratively, the US Circus comes to your town, do a little show, make you laugh, and then the clowns turn around and whips out their AK-47’s, and make their demands!

Yes, it might seem like a “balance”, but it is ridiculously unrelated to each other.  How is a good Hollywood film going to make a Drone-kill order more palatable??

Thus, I say to the likes of Hillary Clinton, if US “Smart Power” makes sense to you, you need serious help.  Better yet, take a sabbatical from the 3-ring circus you call US politics, and get REAL, before this kind of self-deception becomes part of your own “value”.

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  1. Zack
    August 1st, 2012 at 08:57 | #1

    Hilary Clinton should only be taken seriously because she occupies an office of power; as a person though, she’s motivated by issues of trying to outdo her husband in ‘greatness’. Her so called plan to ‘pivot’ to Asia wasn’t even her won; Pentagon planners had already designated China to be the new ‘Soviet Union’ that must be contained as far back as the early 90s.

  2. colin
    August 1st, 2012 at 22:03 | #2

    I used to have a positive image of HC, but now see she is just a thug.

  3. colin
    August 1st, 2012 at 22:08 | #3

    The whole pivot to Asia is ridiculous. Asia has been peaceful and developing greatly the last 3+ decades. Why fix what’s not broken? The intention of the pivot is to f?ck things up over there.

  4. Zack
    August 1st, 2012 at 23:23 | #4

    @colin
    because the intention of the US ‘pivot’ isn’t to ‘fix what’s broken’ since nothing is broken in the first place. The purpose of the pivot is to create situations where things get broken so the US can come in and look like the saviour/good guy; it’s a protection racket like none other, and here’s the kicker: Your average non anglo westerner like europeans and Russia tacitly approve the US pivot as it’ll draw US attention away from Europe so from the geopolitical view of the Russians, they’ll have a free hand to dominate Europe in the form of the Eurasian Union, and the Europeans will get to do whatever it is they’re up to. As it is, Europe is not a threat to anyone in the near future, having been slaved to the US NATO war machine.

    And US firms are gobbling up this ‘pivot’; for one, US companies will get to tap into Asia’s economic dynamism (generated by none other than China, ironically) via the proposed TPP and US and European firms will profit from arms selling to the insecure south east asians and Indians. To sum it up, it’s in the West’s interests to drum up war and insecurity in Asia, if not for the sake of keeping the Asian nations in their places-forever subservient to western nations (highly recommend reading ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ by Perkins)-then most definitely for profit, which gods only knows, the west needs after the self inflicted global financial crisis.

  5. Zack
    August 1st, 2012 at 23:31 | #5

    i mean, anyone wonder why ASEAN greeted the ‘pivot’ with a rather lukewarm response; it was only the Philipines that was gung ho about it, and Vietnam which is still hiding its cards close to its chest. No, the rest of ASEAN views the US pivot with suspicion; even the US’ cornerstone of ASEAN, Thailand, had only good things to say about China, but it appears the compradors in Manila are fighting for the title of number one supplicant to the US. And has anyone noticed that it’s only Time magazine, TheEconomist, mainly anglo/western media outlets that portray the US pivot as something like the rest of SEA (south east Asia) begging the US to come and save them? and some filipino mouthpieces of course, though to their credit, some filipinos are against the Acquino policy of making themselves subservient to the US again.

  6. Black Pheonix
    September 19th, 2012 at 17:43 | #6

    Recent fury in the Islamic World against US (and the West in general) over a stupid (and bigoted) movie says much about the soft-headed-ness of US “Smart Power” policies.

    Oh, the West wants to talk and export its “values”??

    Except, who gets to decide what those “values” are? And what represents the “values”?

    In this case, intentional or not, a WORST kind of “movie” representing the WORST kind of “values” in the West is taken with severe offense by many Muslims.

    Instead of reflecting on its own “values” and what it means, the Western media blames the Islamic world for being too sensitive, and attributing it to the radical elements in the Islamic world.

    This shifting of burdens and responsibilities, is another equally apparent WORST kind of “values” in the West, harping back all the way to the Imperialism days.

    It says more loudly than any stupid movie that the West “values” are nothing but made up BS like its movies, cheap or expensively made.

    Perhaps Clinton and others will discover the true Western “values” for themselves for once, but I doubt it. They keep on pretending that others will still enjoy buying their BS “values”.

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