« You Are Dumb | Main | The Schroeder-Fischer Legacy »


Viagra, dude.

How true!

Foreign policy successes and failures should be evaulated and gauged against their methods implemented. Recent American soft-power foreign policy with Libya, for example, has been successfull. German, UK and French soft-power foreign policy with Iran has been a complete failure, and more importantly, appears to offer no hope. Insanity, is after all, trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

It seems the former German Ambassador to America has amnesia regarding the usage of hard power when his country endorsed such policies which brought about a string of successes in the Balkens: the twice ending of genocide on the European continent (Bosnia and Kosovo) and the internment of Milosovic to the Hauge.

Seems to me like the Ambassador likes to cherry-pick historical facts to justify his employer's political positioning.

It was Teddy Roosevelt, (one of the biggest baddest Americans again,) that said something like: "Speak softly but carry a big stick."

What he meant was if you talk and use soft politics but have no strength to back it up, YOU WILL BE IGNORED. He realized that you must have the strength to back up what you talk about or request of other nations.

WHAT A REVELATION. Are the European elite so uneducated that they believe this soft politics will work without anything supporting it? They have lost their own history books, apparently. No wonder the Iranians are laughing all the way to the mosque, as they purchase more European technology with which to nake nuclear weapons a reality one day.

Do the European elite really believe the opposite of this? I find it hard to imagine.

Liberalism is the consolation of the West as it commits suicide - Jerry Pournelle.

Many smug Europeans took to using the phrase when considering the Bush Admins diplomatic efforts

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

A good phrase really - but I prefer to rebuttal

"When you lack a hammer, NOTHING looks like a nail - even what are quite obviously nails in need of hammering"

This is the self imposed delusion of the Europeans today - insistent on the delusion of soft-power working wonders ourside the borders of the EU

The funny thing about that soft power/hard power fashion word is that it can be understood quite differently. I've never found the concept translated into German, but the English language allows much more intended ambiguity than the German, and it wouldn't be easy to translate it 1:1.

When using the concept, one can either think about the complementary components of hardware and software, or about the mutually exclusive attractions of hardcore and softcore porn. One interpretation says that military superiority and political grand strategy are worthless without each other, the other implies that Joschka Fischer marrying an Iranian who could be his daughter was better than Lynndie England pulling the leash of one who could be her father. The ambiguity could hardly be stronger.

Recent American soft-power foreign policy with Libya, for example, has been successfull.

This is because 1) there is hard power available should soft power fail, and 2) there is a realistic possibility of the hard power ever being used in some capacity.

The EU3 won't even permit the thought of hard power as an option (such as it exists), so soft power has almost no power at all. It isn't soft power, it's flaccid power.

"Soft power should not be ridiculized."

Of course it should. It's never worked yet.

"Ridiculized". Ya know, if Bush had said something like this I wonder what the German media would do?

Soft power and hard power are two silly terms that seem to suggest alternatives of 2 options and that these are complete solutions. I am not in favour of a Germany that can use "hard power" again, Germany lost this right in 1945. It would be nice however if I had the feeling that Germany's soft power was, in cooperation with the USA, aimed at the dictators and theocrats and not attempting to prop them up. My objection with German's foreign isnt that it favours a different strategy but rather that it is quite literally talking a different language.

Juergen, Juergen, let your secretary do the spell checking for you. I believe it should read "ridiculed" instead of "ridiculized", but then I am just a bad spelling American myself ;-)

Juergen, Juergen, let your secretary do the spell checking for you. I believe it should read "ridiculed" instead of "ridiculized", but then I am just a bad spelling American myself ;-)

I'll have to take issue with Pamela's flat statement about soft power.

Soft power was a critical factor in winning the Cold War. The Marshall Plan helped fuel the post-war economic recovery in Western Europe and presented a strong counterweight to Communist inroads there - at an extremely delicate juncture, I might add. The Voice of America beamed news, etc. into Eastern Europe for decades and, from what I've read and heard personally, was a crucial source of information for the citizens versus the disinformation pumped out by their respective governments.

Folks behind the Iron Curtain wanted Levi's and bootleg Beatles records, which served as stand-ins for the ideologies of the western (and predominantly American) way of life. These folks knew that something better was out there (materially and ideologically) and I find it hard to believe that they got that message from X US divisions stationed in the BRD.

Of course Doug's point about hard power providing the irreplaceable back-up for soft power is completely valid. I'd say that soft power doesn't win shooting wars, but just like in the Cold War, we're in a fight for hearts and minds. Soft power has its place, and a darned important one at that.


@Rofe: I think you're talking about something a little different than the original subject. The value of propoganda and outreach to the other side's citizens is acknowledged, and indeed RFE was a big factor in the defeat of the Soviet Union. And it would be great if Europe would set up a Radio Free Iran, but as far as I know, they aren't doing that. And I doubt that they ever would, because that type of cross-border broadcasting is an implicit attack on the target's culture, and European multiculturalism will never permit that.

Cousin Dave,

I understand soft power to be the influence of means other than military power to accomplish goals, i.e. to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons we could a) take out their capabilities (research, production, storage, etc.) via airstrikes, commando raids and the like, b) use influence brought about by close(r) economic ties, associated cultural ties and the like, to convince the powers that be there to terminate nuclear weapons programs, or c) cultivate relations with opposition figures of influence and the general citizenry (including mundane stuff like Home Improvement in Farsi) with the long-term strategic goal of having such folks eventually move into roles as decision makers.

b) and c) would be the soft power options. Please correct me if this interpretation is incorrect (which isn't to equate b) and c) with the most effective / practical option in this case).


This has a little bit to do with my profession the last 26 years. ;-) A lot of people have made good comments that more or less sum it up. I would only add the following:
Hard and soft power is a little bit of an oversimplification. In fact, there are several "instruments of national power" as we like to refer to them. Commonly, we group these into broad categories such as economic, diplomatic, cultural, and of course, military. In each of these categories, there are usually a wide range of activities along a continuum; depending on who is involved and the seriousness of the issue. In Joint Staff speak, these are called Flexible Deterrent Options.
In the economic realm, these range from sending trade delegations and financial incentivies through punitive tariffs to confiscating assets to total sanctions and counterfeiting their money. Militarily, they range from sending instructors to train indigenous troops through "shows of force" (deploying forces to neighbouring countries, parking a carrier nearby, or flying multiple aircraft up to and perhaps over certain airspace boundries) all the way to force employment... and even then you can make a differentiation between kinetic or non-kinetic effects. The former would include things like jamming or broadcasting, disrupting power or communications, information warfare, etc. The latter more or less means warheads on targets. And there is always special ops... a little beyond the scope of this discussion, as it can include almost anything.
So in sum, just because it is military, doesn't mean that it is automatically "hard." However, as other posters have already mentioned, the instruments of national power are most effective when used together in a coordinated fashion to achieve the desired effect or behaviour on the part of the country in question. In many cases, the lack of a credible military option renders other instruments of national power ineffective in solving a crisis. This is what Old Europe can't seem to grasp.

Whoops. Please swap "former" and "latter" in my previous post. :-(

(Hi Rofe!)
>>Soft power was a critical factor in winning the Cold War.

Two words.

Pershing. Missiles.

Soft power in and of itself, is useless.

Bob Dole is way over the hill. Rafael Palmero has a credibility problem. I would say that Juergen Chrobog is a good candidate to become the new Viagra spokesman!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Mission

The Debate

Blog powered by Typepad

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31