Craig Hayden, Associate Professor, Security Studies, Marine Corps University; Cynthia Schneider, Distinguished Professor, Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University; Former US Ambassador of the Netherlands
In the 1980s Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power,” referring to a country’s ability to attract rather than coerce. For many years America has enticed the world through the appeal of its cultural outputs, even when US foreign policy is unpopular. It has unleashed an attractive arsenal of Hollywood blockbusters, genre-shaping tunes, and mega brands such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. As these cultural phenomena spread globally, so did US influence, attracting partners and support. Yet, in the age of the “America First” modus operandi, is US soft power—expressed through culture, education, diplomacy and aid—declining? And to what extent is the American story being eclipsed by a rising China, the world’s other movie hubs, Bollywood and Nollywood, and even K-pop bands?