Soft power refers to the ability of a country to influence the behavior of other countries or actors in the international system through non-coercive means. It is the ability to attract and persuade others to support a country’s policies and objectives through the use of culture, ideology, values, and institutions, rather than through military or economic coercion.
Soft power is often seen as an alternative or complementary approach to hard power, which involves the use of military or economic pressure to achieve a country’s goals. Soft power is generally seen as a more subtle and indirect approach to international relations that relies on building positive relationships and appealing to shared values and interests.
Soft power can also be used to build partnerships and alliances, increase economic cooperation, and promote diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution.
World Made Good Sustainable Development Host, Catarina Caria spoke with the author of a new book that looks at reclaiming global leadership using soft power.
Daniel F. Runde is senior vice president and the William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Renowned as a global thought leader, he has been at the center of Washington debates on soft power and development for two decades. Previously, he held senior leadership roles at the World Bank Group and served in the Bush Administration at USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bretton Woods Committee, and previously chaired two U.S. federal advisory committees that touch on soft power. He is a contributor to thehill.com and hosts a CSIS podcast series “Building the Future: Freedom, Prosperity & Foreign Policy.”
Runde’s new book The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership Through Soft Power (Bombardier Books, Feb. 7, 2023) addresses what America’s global strategy should look like in an age of renewed great power competition.
Runde makes the case for building a new global consensus through vigorous internationalism and judicious use of soft power. He maps out many of the steps that we need to take––primarily in the non-military sphere––to ensure an alliance of stable and secure, like-minded, self-reliant partner nations in order to prevent rising authoritarian powers such as China from running the world.
This is the first book in decades to look at our non-military power through the lens of great-power competition. It calls for: supporting broad-based economic growth, supporting good governance and anti-corruption, long-term training, differentiating our approaches in middle-income countries and fragile states, and stronger U.S. leadership in the multilateral system.