Hard Power Vs. Soft Power

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by pmaitra, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    [HR][/HR]
    Topic of discussion:
    Is hard power better, or worse? Why is that, in the global perspective (USA, USSR/Russia, PRC)? In the Indian perspective, is hard power better or worse? How should India deal with littoral states in India's neighbourhood?


    [HR][/HR]

    Hard Power Vs. Soft Power

    Prelude:
    Terms:
    Read the complete article here: Hard Power Vs. Soft Power | The Mark
     
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  3. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    ^Those articles give an impression that 'hard power' is evil while 'soft power' is good. Reality is not black and white.

    From Wikipedia:

    Hard power : Persuasion via direct threat
    Soft Power: ability to attract and co-opt

    The definition of 'hard power is obvious'. But, for Soft Power "ability to attract and co-opt" is vague. How does a country "attract and co-opt" ?

    Some immediate answers - movies, literature, shared culture, history. It sounds good no ? But does it really work ?. A practical example which we're well versed with is Bollywood-obsessed Pakistanis. Sure they love those movies and idolize some of the film-stars but that's not likely to change their opinion about India. Similarly, another example is of Iranians who may love Led Zeppelin but they'll participate in 'death to America' marches at the same time. What really matters in 'soft power' is something which I call ideological leadership

    I'll expand on the ideological leadership part - Apart from religion (obvious), ideological leadership includes economic and political ideologies. USSR was the ideological leader for Communism; USA is the leader for Democracy, capitalism, protestant Christianity; Iran is the leader of Shia Islam.

    In a foreign country, a small elite is loyal to the ideologies of a "leader country", the same elite then tries to influence public opinion based on interest of the "leader". Hence, 'Soft power' can be as sinister as 'hard power'.

    Now coming to the topic of discussion, soft power is definitely better than hard power. But, In the Indian perspective, (despite boasting about it numerous times), we don't really have "soft power" and at the moment we'll have to rely on 'hard power'.
     
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  4. satish007

    satish007 Senior Member Senior Member

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    well, Chinese should improve mouth power which waaaay less powerful than Indian.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Should the mouth power be soft or hard? In other words, should PRC talk sweet or tough?
     
  6. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hey folks it's all in our ancestors' Yin and Yang theory which I find perfectly explains almost everything. There's "soft power" in "hard power" and vice versa. Being inter-connected and interdependent, they give rise to each other and are convertible in between.

    As the prelude refers to A'stan I'd like to hear more of how India would bring the two powers into full in play there.
     
  7. satish007

    satish007 Senior Member Senior Member

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    they should talk about more topics about in 2030,2040,2050, all around the world 's proletarian will be saved from capitalism by china. and India will be liberated by CCP using J100 and give up their silly democracy and make a best living in the world.
     
  8. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    LB provided a good overview of when soft power works and when it doesn't. The problem with Indian soft power is that we are not the "leader" of anything. Our chances of genuine soft power anywhere in the Middle East or Central Asia (including Afghanistan) are extremely slim; at best we can hope that they watch our crappy movies and have a somewhat positive opinion of India because of Kareena Kapoor.

    Since it is extremely unlikely that India will create some brand new super-duper attractive ideology that wins over the hearts and minds of Asia, our best bet for exercising genuine soft power is to re-emphasize India's historical position as the spiritual home of Buddhism. I think I made a post touching on this matter a while back in the thread that Known Unknown started. This will obviously be aimed at Southeast Asia, which is where most modern Buddhists live. We can start this process by restoring Nalanda University to its former glory and making it once again an international university with an emphasis on joining together students from India, Southeast Asia, and maybe East Asia as well.


    Official Site: The Nalanda University


    There was a time when monks and students from all over Asia came to India to learn the answers to the world's questions. Chinese travelers like Fa-Hsien and Xuanzang who wrote accounts of their stay in India are some famous examples. Let us join together the people of Asia and work to bring back that forgotten past.
     
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  9. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Taoism and Confucianism are the core soft power of China. That would save the world from this dark age. Why not export them right now for ideological leadership?
     
  10. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    There is no soft power without hard power, look at Japan even after it is 2nd biggest economy they have no soft power because there is no hard power to back it.

    Soft power in essence is based on threats of useing your long stick.
     
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  11. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    Not just Buddhism, there are other avenues too. I heard that Ramdev Baba has a huge following in Nepal.... if only GoI would leverage that ;)
     
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  12. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    You clearly underestimate the destructive potential of millions of anime/manga-addicted teenagers in the West.

    On a more serious note, Japan has no soft power because most of their national ethos are either adopted from the West (i.e. political liberalism, democracy, capitalism, etc.) or define Japanese national identity to the exclusion of foreigners (i.e. Shinto traditions, importance of family honor, etc.).


    Agreed.
     
  13. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    "We do not have time to wait for the enlightenment of our neighbors so that we can work together toward the development of Asia. It is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West."

    - Fukuzawa Yukichi, 1885


    ^^ Such a statement may have been necessary in the 19th century, when Asia had fallen far behind Europe and was being exploited on a grand scale. But the side-effect of such thinking is that it deprived Japan of all available avenues for soft power and forced it to rely exclusively on hard power for power projection. This failed Japan in the long-term, because its hard power could not compete with that of the U.S.
     
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  14. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    As Civfanatic said, India should look East and South East Asia for friendly nations. Culturally Indians have a lot in common with Asian countries where there is Hindu and Buddhist culture or inflcuence of Indian culture.
     
  15. IBSA

    IBSA Regular Member

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    I think India shall deal with soft power, because though it has a huge army, India has not historical tradition of employing hard power against its neighbors countries. Except in Gupta Empire, when it reached out the current Afghanistan territory, India spent more time fighting her enemies inside her own territory than outside of her.

    In other hand, India has a good softpower in Asia with Bollywood.

    I think the best strategy for India is to do the inverse than that China does. The China has yes a mongolist historic custom of apply the hard power against neighbors: Tibet (1951), Korea (1950), India (1962), Vietnam (1979). This way, India should explores the mistrust and fears of Asian countries toward the China ambitions using her softpower to gain simpathy and copt them.
     
  16. Payeng

    Payeng Daku Mongol Singh

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    I think one who uses military might as a tool for Diplomacy is a hard power.
     
  17. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    In Asia ? In the subcontinent yes, but I doubt many people in Asia actually watch Bollywood movies. IIRC people in the Gulf just watch it for the 'item numbers'.

    And does Bollywood actually portray Indian culture ? Most of the stuff that comes out is rehashed Hollywood...they've even started using English titles for recent movies
     
  18. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    This has already been posted, but an extract which is relevant to the Hard Power vs Soft Power disucssion

    The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : India is not a global power
     
  19. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    Excellent article by civfanatic

    The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft

    Some extracts
    Full article: The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft
     
  20. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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    Its not a zero sum game now.. the systemic linkage of economic clout and projecting that link on the international fora as a quantifiable and measurable power has become a major trend as of now. The so called psychological neutralizer in form of bilateral ties without much substance is what I consider a pseudo-strategic approach where it is plausible to understand where there is "no-stake" the so-called "Bilateral Ties" has nothing in substance. That is why I just see India has a Long way to go.. Soft vs Hard is not the need of the hour its "Smart" power i.e Soft+Hard power that we need . we must have a Meta-policy for our foreign policy that is based on the dynamics of social structure of India and the enshrined values of constitution.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
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  21. Ankit Purohit

    Ankit Purohit Senior Member Senior Member

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    India................ superpower
     

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