The effectiveness of soft power as the tool in achieving a country’s national interests in international relations as what happens in the United States

Soft power can be as the effective tools in order to achieve the national interest of a country in the context of international relations, because as we know, the sources of soft power itself not just based on the culture of a country that can attract some people in order to achieve its national interests, but it can be with other ways, such as by enhancing its political values and its foreign policies.

And then, we can also see that by using soft power, it will be easier to achieve the country’s national interests rather than using hard power. Using hard power can be used to, but not as effective as using soft power itself. Where by using hard power, it can be achieved by using force or threats, which it has an obligation to consider the country’s interests which use this power in the terms that mainly calculable costs and benefits. [1]

While by using soft power, it can be achieved through doing cooperation with other peoples by attracting them without using “carrot” and “stick”. And this power has persuasive potency to attract both people inside and outside their countries (foreigners).

Then, the concept about this power has been risen recent years, especially in public debates on foreign affairs. Also, this concept has attracted the attention of some leaders to make decisions, especially in the US to put out their foreign policies. Even, the treatment of this concept is being developed, which this concept refers as a “soft theory”.

By paying attention more to the concept of soft power, it already has changed the frame of international relations itself, where there are some worldviews or ideologies which embrace this concept, for instance are Constructivism and Neo-liberalism theories, which are the ideologies that can be considered as the most important for changing the nature of world politics in this international age. We can also see that some of international events, which is as part of the concept about soft power, already influenced some theories. The history of our world also has proven that the use of soft power is really important source for national influence, and it still as much important as now. Where the changing of our international system today assume that soft power is as the most vital element for solving international problems, since it is really hard to enforce both the people in a nation and some of non-state actors in international relations by using threats and force as their punishments (hard power), because the world today has developed more into a “softer world”, where the international society much prefer to obey what their leaders want by attracting them in a gentle manner instead by forcing them to do so.[2]

So, if the people who has exercised their authorities and can influence other people by using their power through attracting international society, whether in their cultures, political values or even from their foreign policies, the possibility to achieve the national interests of their countries might be happened, instead of using hard power.

There are some examples that can prove these arguments before. We can see them about what happens in America today. Where regarding to its history, the spread of their soft power resources has great impact or great influence around the word, from their cultures, its political values and even from its foreign policies. On their culture, we can see that almost all the people around the world has followed their life style, such as in arts, foods and even from their clothing. And also there is one term that until now still exist around the world, which is the McDonaldization, the term that is created by George Ritzer, which defines a sociological phenomenon that is happening right now in our society.[3] As for its political values, freedom and democracy are the most powerful influence in our world now, where some countries which initially can be categorized as authoritarian regime, have change their political values or political system into democracy, because they see that by using such values, the society will be much prosperous than before, like what happens in US, whether in politics or in their economy. The last is from its foreign policies. This part is the most crucial, and in this part also as the source that where US can achieve their national interests.

Regarding to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting that was held before, US government is doing cooperation with the 11 ASEAN countries by establishing E3 (Economic Expanded Engagement) in economics and ASEAN Fulbright Program in education, in order to strengthen its bilateral relations among those ASEAN countries. They also involve in doing cooperation for stabilize ASEAN maritime security in order to achieve one of their goals or their national security, which is maintaining its peace and security.[4] We also can take look for another example in the case of US, where its government keeps doing some aid programs for some countries, especially in those countries financial. It can be concluded that the US does assistance towards poor countries in order to get supports for achieving its national interests, since US always use its substantial soft power, since it has “an ability to fulfill the dream and desire of others”.[5]

However, beside those positive reactions, there are negative impacts or consequences if the influence of a country’s soft power is too broad towards others, like what happens in US today. For the past few years, US is facing some scandals that affect their condition right now, started when Justice Department was caught for monitoring the calls of the Associated Press, there was also the vast National Security Agency apparatus for monitoring online activities which was revealed by Edward Snowden.[6] And the most scandalous case about US is when they tried to invade Iraq for killing Saddam Hussein under “humanitarian intervention” context, the same that will happen in Syria also in order to impose Assad regime. While they promoted their political values about human rights and justice, they also the one who did some illegitimate actions by doing violence towards people who oppose them. With these scandals, it will affect the image and soft power of United States until next time, if they still put out some irrational decisions. The maps below show United States’ soft power influence to some countries, especially in Latin America and Africa, and its comparison with China’s influence of soft power through those countries.



References :

[1] Gray, Colin S. 2011. Hard Power and Soft Power : The Utility of Military Force as an Instrument of Policy in The 21st Century. SSI Monograph.

[2] Gallarotti, Giulio M., 2011. Soft Power : What It Is, Why It’s Important, and the Conditions Under Which it Can Be Effectively Used. Division II Faculty Publications. Paper 57.

[3]What Is McDonaldization?” in, accessed on November 3rd, 2013

[4]Remarks at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting” in, accessed on November 3rd, 2013

[5]Book Review : Soft Power by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.” in, accessed on November 3rd, 2013

[6]Scandals Harm U.S. Soft Power” in, accessed on November 3rd, 2013


Author: yatipakpahan

I'm just an ordinary woman who's full of sarcasm to other people I despise so much,so embrace yourself with my new attitude~~

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