It’s anyone’s guess how seriously to take these sort of annual rankings but they often put into figures something we only vaguely felt to be true. The “Soft Power 30″ report, released on July 18, puts the US at #3. France is #1 in terms of soft power, it says, and the UK is #2.
So it’s not America First at all, but Third! Dear me.
The report, by Portland Communications in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, measures a country’s soft power. It does this by combining objective data across six categories (Government, Culture, Education, Global Engagement, Enterprise, and Digital) with international polling and Facebook-assisted data on digital diplomacy.
The use of soft power is often hard to discern. But you know if a country has a modicum of it when it manages to use its attractiveness to persuade others and achieve foreign policy objectives. The US, for instance, was forgiven quite a lot of disastrous bumbling – the Iraq invasion – because it was ultimately considered an idealistic nation of laws, a force for good in the world. When the US, led by previous presidents, spoke of liberty and freedom, it seemed likely they believed in them. No longer.
American political scientist Joseph Nye, who first recognised the concept of soft power, said its three primary sources are political values, culture, and foreign policy.
On all of these the US appears to be lagging where once it led. Emmanuel Macron’s France instead, is impressing everyone anew. Not only does it retain its status as a lifestyle superpower, it has a youthful can-do spirit too.
Move over the American Dream. Le rêve français anyone ?