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”.