Soft Power and Public Diplomacy Revisited

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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  • 1 Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States

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Soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction and persuasion rather than coercion or payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values and policies. A smart-power strategy combines hard- and soft-power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country’s soft power, and soft power was essential in winning the Cold War. Smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of the roles of credibility, self-criticism and civil society in generating soft power. As authoritarian states today use new cyber technologies and other means to disrupt political processes in democracies, questions arise about the boundaries of soft power and the appropriate policies for public diplomacy.

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