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Erosion of US Soft Power

Erosion of US Soft Power

By: Hira Batool

As the world’s only superpower, the US is internationally acknowledged to play a leadership role in four main fields: technology, military, finance and soft power. Yet a controversial change is taking place as US establishment forces worry about the country’s soft power. They think the presidency of Donald Trump has eroded US soft power. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, who first put forward the concept of soft power, wrote an article in Project Syndicate in February about his concerns. He cited the results of multiple polls proving that US’ approval ratings and attractiveness are dropping due to Trump’s presidency.

US soft power is indeed declining, but this process of decline can’t be fully ascribed to Trump. It actually results from a series of US mistakes over domestic and foreign issues after the Cold War that seriously undermined its soft power. In this sense, all US presidents ever since the end of the Cold War, or rather the entire elites of the country, are to blame.

Washington has wronged other countries because it misunderstood its victory in the Cold War. The victory came mainly because the Soviet Union collapsed from internal problems. But US elites took it as a result of their actions and hence became arrogant, considering Russia a defeated nation. This cursed US-Russian relations.

In accordance with the economic “shock therapy” prescribed by the US that led to the privatization of Russian state-owned enterprises, Russian state assets were shared out among the US-led capitalists and Russian oligarchs. Washington also trapped Moscow in terms of security, as shown by the eastward expansion of NATO.

The Arab Spring was presented by Western media as a movement to overthrow secular regimes. During the process many Russian allies in the Middle East and North Africa were uprooted, with only Syria left. Hence Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a harsh stance on Syria issue.

The US made a huge mistake by treating Russia this way. If US elites and strategists had realized that the US won the Cold War because Russia gave up, their attitude would have allowed Russia deeper participation in the international system. Washington would have had much better days than it has now.

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