Hard Power Vs. Soft Power

pmaitra

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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?


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Hard Power Vs. Soft Power

Prelude:
When it comes to Afghanistan, mixing military might with diplomatic talk is easier said than done.

In the wake of the London conference on Afghanistan two weeks ago, there has been much speculation about whether or not we have rounded a corner in our approach to the conflict. Does the strategic balance now favour talking over fighting en route to the withdrawal of foreign troops?
Terms:
Definitions: "¬Hard power is about compelling your adversary to comply with your will through the threat or use of force.- "¬Soft power is about attracting your partner to share your goals through dialogue and exchange.-

Objectives: "¬Hard power seeks to kill,- "¬capture,- "¬or defeat an enemy.- "¬Soft power seeks- to "¬influence through understanding and the identification of common ground.

Techniques:- "¬Hard power relies ultimately on sanctions and flows from the barrel of a gun.- "¬Soft power is rooted in meaningful exchange and the art of persuasion.-

Values: "¬Hard power is macho,- "¬absolute,- "¬and zero sum.- "¬Soft power is supple,- "¬subtle,- "¬and win/win.

Ethos: "¬Hard power engenders fear,- "¬anguish, and suspicion.- "¬Soft power flourishes in an atmosphere of confidence,- "¬trust, and respect.-
Read the complete article here: Hard Power Vs. Soft Power | The Mark
 

LurkerBaba

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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'.
 

satish007

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

amoy

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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.
 

satish007

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

civfanatic

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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.
 

amoy

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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.
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?
 

Godless-Kafir

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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.
 

LurkerBaba

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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.
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 ;)
 

civfanatic

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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.
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.).


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

civfanatic

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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.
 

parijataka

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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.
 

IBSA

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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.
 

Payeng

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

LurkerBaba

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

LurkerBaba

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

Power in inter-state relations is the capacity as well as the political will to use that capacity, of one country to make another country do something which, left to itself, it would not do or would not want to do. "Soft" power should not be considered a component of the concept of power since it is not relevant to modifying the behaviour of another country; it can and does serve as a model and indirectly — and over a period of time — to earn goodwill among sections of society of other countries for its culture. But it has no place in the discussion of power as a means to bring about a change in the attitude of another country. India has a genuine attraction for many in the Middle East because of its pluralism combined with a functioning democracy; however, it does not give any "power" to India to influence decision-making in those countries. When we talk of power, we are thinking of military, economic and diplomatic clout, not of Bollywood or yoga.
The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : India is not a global power
 

LurkerBaba

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Excellent article by civfanatic

The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft

Some extracts
There has been considerable talk over the past few years about India as a "global soft power".
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I view Indian soft power as virtually non-existent in its current state, and I also feel that it is unlikely for India to become a true global soft power anytime soon (though it does have the potential to become one). Instead, India's rise to global power status – if and when it happens – will be due to its increasing hard power, and India for the foreseeable future will have to rely on hard power to project its influence abroad.

In order to analyze hard vs. soft power in the Indian context, it is first important to understand what "hard" and "soft" power exactly refer to, and how they differ. "Hard" power refers to the use of military and/or economic means to exert one's influence upon another. In practice, the application of "hard" power tends to be fundamentally coercive in nature. The Indian covert support of the Mukti Bahini and later the overt military intervention into Bangladesh, the Soviet threat to use nuclear weapons against Britain and France during the Suez Crisis, and the imposition of economic sanctions on socialist Cuba by the United States are all examples of the utilization of "hard" power. "Soft" power, on the other hand, refers to the ability to attract and "seduce" (as opposed to coerce) other parties. The American political scientist Joseph Nye, who first coined the terms "hard" and "soft power, identified three categories of soft power: culture, political values, and policies. The utility of each of the three elements depends on their ability to attractExamples of "soft" power may include the extensive Wahhabi influence throughout the Islamic world due to Saudi state sponsorship, the emergence of Marxist-Leninist states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America based on the model of the Soviet Union, and the ability of the United States to historically attract large numbers of immigrants because of its sociopolitical values and free, democratic society.

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It would be virtually impossible for a country like Pakistan to exercise any meaningful soft power based on ideology, since Pakistan's ideology is based on Islamic 'nationalism' where it views itself as part of a greater 'Ummah', but is certainly not recognized by the members of the 'Ummah' as its leader. In other words, Pakistan does not have native ownership over its own ideology, which inevitably leads to Pakistan associating itself with other, more influential members of the 'Ummah' like Saudi Arabia and Iran, at the obvious expense of its own subcontinental origins.

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Another important condition in developing soft power is to have a universal ideology whose values can cut cross national, cultural, and ethnic borders and attract a diverse array of peoples.
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In addition to the ideological and political aspects of soft power, it is also important to look at the nature of cultural soft power. Many aspects of American "culture", such as Hollywood, MTV, Coca-Cola, and brand-name jeans are often touted as being elements of American "soft power". Fundamentally, however, such superficial, materialistic aspects of American "culture" cannot and do not promote pro-American attitudes among foreigners. It would not be totally uncommon to find that some of the most virulent anti-American protestors in Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere may also be avid fans of Hollywood flicks or regularly drink Coke. Although these aspects of American culture may be popular throughout the world, they cannot be considered to be aspects of "soft power". Instead, meaningful cultural soft power would be able to significantly influence the paradigm of other cultures, as the major religions of Christianity and Islam have influenced numerous cultures around the globe.
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Nor does Bollywood, the supposed "holy grail" of Indian soft power, provide the necessary "muscle" for such power projection, since Bollywood only depicts the abovementioned superficial aspects of Indian culture. The immense popularity of Bollywood in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for example, has not turned Pakistan into a pro-Indian country, nor does it prevent Afghans (including the educated elite) from spitting on the floor whenever a Hindu idol is shown on TV.

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The fact is that the Indian entertainment industry has virtually no ability to influence the paradigm of its viewers, and can only bombard them with superficial trash. Perhaps if Bollywood placed less emphasis on petty song-and-dance numbers and focused more on producing movies that depict India's history, culture, and values in a more profound fashion, such paradigm shifts can take place among international audiences. But Bollywood in its current state is far from being a true vehicle for exercising Indian soft power.
Full article: The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft
 

blank_quest

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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.
 
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