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Hilldog and the Giant November 18, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 11:50 pm

For this blog obviously I was going to write about public diplomacy, but I didn’t want to make the typical run of the mill “America does it bad” or “soft power is blah blah” statement. Yet I was struggling trying to come up with an idea. I google imaged for some inspiration and found a lovely cartoon that I think illustrates the truth in American PD. To me it illustrates that obviously American public diplomacy exists…but it is greatly overshadowed by the military and government actions.


Then I returned to the weekly reading and found a great quote: “The soft power of a country rests primarily on three sources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority)” – Joseph Nye. This is a very interesting statement that makes logical sense in terms of the components of soft power. Obviously these three components are all drastically related, but personally I think that the political values are the most dominant component, specifically in relation to the government living up to what they say they do abroad. That provides evidence of the moral authority and in turn makes the culture more attractive abroad.


Then after still not feeling finished with the blog, and while chatting with a friend in med school (who is very politically savvy), I asked for inspiration for my public diplomacy blog. The response was somewhat amusing:

Ashley: Write my public diplomacy blog.

TJ: What’s that?

Ashley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_power

TJ: OH Hilldog does that all the time!

Ashley: haha yeah she does.


I want to say that this lack of awareness is reflective of soft power. In ways I think it’s true…the American public isn’t directly involved with most forms of American PD, unless they are in the elite few that study abroad, join the peace corps, or are a scholar (and this way Hilldog wouldn’t be doing it all!)

From these three sources I conclude that in order for American public diplomacy to make a larger impact it needs American military and government practices to live up to what they say they will abroad. That provides evidence of the moral authority and in turn makes the culture more attractive abroad, reassuring the three main components of PD. In doing this, PD will also gain a larger share of the foreign world’s viewpoint and the military will not be such a giant on the forefront of international perceptions. Lastly, there needs to be more examples of direct engagement from the American public. This is one of the best ways to enact PD and without it occurring it continues the government/military giant perception.


2 Responses to “Hilldog and the Giant”

  1. krutotherescue Says:

    I would agree with a lot of this. Over-dependency and tendency to use hard power techniques (see the military) has really degraded our soft power throughout the world. In order to fix that, we need to not be so trigger happy, and need to focus on using multilateralism to discuss and solve problems.

    It’s also worth noting that this perception of giant versus the small, Goliath versus David, and strong versus weak is a VERY important narrative that takes place around the globe. Continually listening to the giant within and acting as the giant enables the small/weak/Davids of the world to react negatively towards us with some form of legitimacy. In plainer words, continually being a bully gives the repressed an excuse, justification, and almost the right to react back and punish us without garnering much negative attention from the rest of the world – it gives the weak the soft power in the scenario, leaving the strong looking like jerks.

    • laurawry Says:

      Great comment – and I would agree that it’s interesting to examine archetypal roles that play into international relations, particularly related to U.S. public diplomacy. Hard vs. soft power dynamics mirror male vs. female archetypes; the mention of Hillary as soft force in U.S. foreign policy is certainly apt.

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