The art of influencing others to follow, support and protect your required results through politics, foreign policy and culture can be termed as “soft power”. A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries - admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to each its level of prosperity and openness - want to follow it. Soft power is considered the second face of power through which we can get the same outcome, i.e. maximization of power, without using arms and ammunition. It is not simply the ability or capacity to influence or inspire others, but it is the ability to attract, and attraction leads to acquiescence. Therefore, soft power rests on the ability to form, shape and design the preferences of others. Soft power comprises of the contributions of governments and its citizens, as well as non-governmental actors, containing economic, political and cultural organizations and morals. Cultural institutions, prosperity and internet connectivity, democracy and foreign aid, and overall cultural ranking influence a country’s international pull. The support of persuasive methods like mass media, film industry, tradition, fashion, internet, language, education can boost the country’s soft power. These persuasive methods help to strengthen cross-border relationships and interconnectedness. Soft power works through comparatively less transparent and unseen channels, as well as through lobbying via powerful political and non-political organizations.

Portland Communications released the soft power rankings of 2018 and declared the UK as the leading soft power nation. France, the former leader, came down to runner-up, while Germany and USA ranked at third and fourth respectively. Without any doubt, the majority of the top thirty countries are from Europe, alongside Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The only Asian country in the top ten is Japan, which ranks at number five.

The UK’s standing was quite a surprise as British politics in today’s world are apparently consumed by Brexit. In actuality, British businesses, entrepreneurs, and residents have something else going on as well. As evident, the brass tacks of UK’s soft power are very strong. The key strengths of its soft power are education, culture and international engagements that compel the world to sketch a progressive picture of UK. Cultural institutions, like the British Council and BBC world service, as well as recognized international brands like Premier League are leaving profound influences on local as well as global audiences. They help attract international students, tourists, and Foreign Direct Investments.

In 2017, France moved from 5th to 1st in soft power 30 ranking. Despite slipping from 1st to 2nd this year, we cannot deny the fact that France is relatively in a better. France is still considered a tourist haven, and welcomes more tourists than any other country in the world. It is the best-networked state in the world and is a member of more multi-lateral organizations than any other country. However, there is further capacity for development with respect to soft power.

Empirical assessments of USA’s soft power are unmatched. The topmost universities of the world are located here, therefore it attracts the most international students. America’s mass media and digital industry are ranked among the top. As home to Silicon Valley and some of the largest tech companies in the world – Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc. – the US leads the way in tech-based innovation.

After the end of WWII, Japan has successfully emerged as a democratic, peaceful and progressive nation. Its main weapon for exercising influence throughout the globe has been soft power. Japan’s diplomatic representation is considered the best, as it is has over 150 embassies. Japan’s extraordinary participation and sharing of the burden of international security, peacekeeping assignments are also commendable. That is why Japan is the second largest contributor to the UN’s budget. Japan’s capability to participate with global audiences through digital platforms is a perfect way to make the country more reachable.

SAMREEN BARI AAMIR,

Karachi, February 11.