Hail Britannia, Soft Power Invasion

Admittedly Monocle is a great magazine for design, style, and a few other things–but not a likely candidate to end up in a footnote for your IR essay on soft power.  Bear with me then when their recently released survey shows the UK at number one.

For the first time, Britain has beaten the US to the top spot in an annual survey of global soft power. Coined by a Harvard academic in 1990, the term describes how countries use attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or payment, to change behaviour.

Monocle magazine’s annual “Global Soft Power” survey, published tomorrow, ranks nations according to their standard of government; diplomatic infrastructure; cultural output; capacity for education; and appeal to business.

via Britain is now most powerful nation on earth – Home News – UK – The Independent.

To be fair–in a more serious publication–the “Harvard academic” quoted above, who will be at BYU in winter semester 2013 made the case back in 2004 that America’s soft power decline was an issue.

3 thoughts on “Hail Britannia, Soft Power Invasion”

  1. The lack of US global soft power is largely due to the fact that not all has been well within America in the past 5 years. With financial crisis looming, record high unemployment and growing political polarization leading to stalemates within Congress and a general dissatisfaction with our government, America cannot be expected to lead the world as a global soft power. With the sentiment that the military budget is expecting major cuts, we may also no longer be a global “strong” power.

  2. I think the claim that “Britain is now [the] most powerful nation on earth” is a bit of a stretch, and the following article attempts to explain how (http://www.breakingviews.com/soft-power-is-priceless-and-scarce/21053770.article). Even though with international involvement and economic decline has decreased the power of the US, I doubt Britain’s political and financial prowess would fill such a void. Considering that discussion is increasing concerning ousting Britain and France from the Security Council permanent membership as other nations have risen to surpass it. But even though British boy bands and television seem to be popping up on every side, I see the Union Jack more as a fad than a solid display of soft power.

  3. I agree with the post above that to claim that Britain is the most influential nation on earth is still somewhat farcical. Admittedly, there have been a number of a popular singers, movies, etc coming out of Britain… but to claim that they have eclipsed the power and draw of America because of a year filled with many festivities (i.e. the Olympics) is unfounded because the facts tell a different story. In a recent poll involving 43 countries, 79 percent of those surveyed said that what they most admire about the United States is its leadership in science and technology, the American entertainment industry came in a distant second. One foreigner said that what they admired most about America was “its open intellectual culture, its great universities, [and] its capacity for discovery and innovation.” I agree that America still holds sway because of its freedom and the ability to create and innovate.


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