Sunday, May 14, 2017

Joseph Nye and Public Diplomacy


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A response (slightly edited) to a kind comment on an article by Joseph Nye just posted on the PDPR:

Re Nye's "soft power" (SP), I've at times thought (pardon the vulgarity) it's the male organ after orgasm. [See the comment to the above illustrated "novel."]

More "seriously," "soft power" -- it's Nye's way of having an entity getting what it wants without hitting people over the head -- i.e., using force/violence. 

Not for the benefit of the "non-entity" people themselves, of course, but for the get-real entity itself (and its "interests"), which would suffer consequences contrary to its interests if non-entity people were hit over the head and complained about it.

If I read Nye correctly, SP is the power of attraction by an entity by the very attractive nature of that entity. If one follows this logic, such an entity doesn't need "soft power" programs to communicate with /present itself /sell itself to the world -- including, arguably, by means of international exchange programs. In the case of America, it just has to be "itself" -- andit's -- voilà! -- automatically attractive the world.

Arguably, Hollywood is America as it most innocent/fresh/commercial/exceptional/holy attractiveness, (well, why not?) if I follow the Harvard professor's logic: Hollywood is not America's government-sponsored public diplomacy, but its "spontaneous" popular culture, which (again arguably) is the USA just being itself and thus the world loving it.

In all fairness to the good professor, he does say that public diplomacy is part of his country's "soft power," but that doesn't follow from his premise of what USA "soft power" fundamentally is (as I see it, I hope wrongly: "Just be what you  Americans -- blessed with your sacrosanct 'Merikan 'values' -- want to be," and the planet will love USA/us). 

And, again in all fairness to Nye, he has claimed (2007) that "we ought to double the size of the Fulbright Program." https://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/testimonies/joseph-nye-testifies-before-congress-on-u.s.-security-strategy-post-9-11

Nye is not a historian (see my nasty review of his book on American presidents) http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2013/0912/bk/book10_brown_amera.html -- his views have all the naïveté of a poli-sci university/government bureaucrat aspiring to power [and maybe love, if you read his cited above novel].

His obiter dicta are not based, in my modest opinion, on a thoughtful appreciation of the past, but formulated by simplistic a priori concepts (e.g., SP) "easily understood" by the powers-that-be (especially aspiring ones) in pointless power-point presentations.

Re Trump, you no doubt noticed that his budget would "safeguard the Fulbright program" https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/15/us/politics/trump-budget-proposal.html. Or so The Donald says -- for now.


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