By now, most of us have heard about the tension between Turkey and the Netherlands (and for those who have not heard about it, CNN has a nice summary). As both countries are heading into elections, they once again showed us that the combination of “irrational voters” and “universal suffrage” might lead to really crazy rhetoric. I argue that this focus on “winning” the elections also influences how Turkey and the Netherlands portray the events in the international arena. And when everybody tries to win the game of soft power, everybody loses. Here is why and how:
With the proposed budget cuts for the U.S. State Department – and USAID -, we once again started seeing soft power discussions on mainstream news outlets. For a scholar, seeing his/her research topic on news outlets is an interesting experience. On one hand, it is a validation of one’s research and academic expertise. If people are talking about your research topic, you are not irrelevant. On the other hand, after hearing the arguments made, all you want to do is to yell “YOU ARE ALL WRONG”. Well, thanks to internet, it is a lot easier to yell that!
You are all wrong, your understanding of soft power is incomplete and flawed. Here is why: