Persuasion and Power in the Modern World |
Chapter 1: Introduction
1. The Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence
was appointed on 16 May 2013 to examine the use of what has come
to be called 'soft power' in furthering the UK's global influence
and interests. The Committee
held 24 meetings and took evidence from 60 witnesses listed in
Appendix 2, as well as receiving 146 detailed written submissions.
We are grateful to all those who gave evidence, and also acknowledge
the assistance of our specialist adviser, Ben O'Loughlin, Professor at
Royal Holloway University of London.
2. Soft power, a term originally coined by the
US political scientist Professor Joseph Nye in 1990, has
been defined as "the ability to affect others to obtain the
outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or
payment". We must
preface our examination of this concept by acknowledging that
the phrase 'soft power' can mislead. It is in no way an alternative
or soft option in place of strong defences and effective military
forces, as we explore in paragraphs 61 to 70. Nor is it merely
a new name for traditional diplomacy and the exercise of diplomatic
skills. It does, however, add an important new dimension to the
conduct of international affairs, posing new challenges which
our inquiry sought to explore.
3. Why inquire into soft power? The body of evidence
received by this Committee indicated that the conditions under
which international relations are conducted have undergone, and
are continuing to undergo, major shifts, which are making the
concept of soft power increasingly relevant.
The so-called 'rise of the rest' (the rising power and influence
of the non-Western world), and in particular the rapid escalation
in the might of Asia are coinciding with an unprecedented explosion
in instant cross-border connectivity between citizens. These parallel
phenomena are resulting in major alterations in the distribution
of global power, and real changes in the very nature of power.
In our inquiry, we explored what these shifts mean for the UK's
position in the world and its ability to maintain its prosperity
and security. Should the UK seek to protect its standing on the
international stage by supplementing its traditional military
and economic strengths (its 'hard power') with other ways of gaining
meaningful influence: with soft power, or with novel combinations
of hard and soft power? We also took note of how disillusionment
with the outcomes of 'hard' military deployment in various theatres
in recent decadeswith no apparent solutions or 'victories'
being obtainedhas spread, especially in the United States.
4. In Chapters two and three of this Report we
examine the ways in which international power balances are changing
against this background. We consider the role of soft power in
the international affairs of a country that wishes to maintain
its position as a global leader in economic and political terms.
In Chapter four, we analyse the practical strengths that could
allow the UK to gain substantially from its soft power, and make
recommendations to the UK Government about how to support those
strengths. In Chapter five, we make recommendations about how
the Government must act to ensure that the UK is able to seize
the opportunities presented by those soft power strengths, in
order to turn them into the real competitive advantages that we
believe can help to maintain and if possible enhance the UK's
world position and deliver its interests. We see profound implications
for the UK in addressing these new, but now central issues.
1 The members of the Committee are listed in Appendix
1, with their declared interests. Back
All the evidence received by the Committee is published in the
Evidence Volume at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/soft-power-uk-influence/SoftPowerEvVol1-as-of-12March.pdf
References in this Report that read "Jonathan McClory"
refer to the written evidence submitted by that author; references
that read "Jonathan McClory, Q200" refer to the oral
evidence at that question number. Back
Nye J. S. Jr. (2008) 'Public Diplomacy and Soft Power', The
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
vol. 616 no. 1 pp94-109. Back
Richard Norton-Taylor; National Museum Directors' Council. Nye
J. S. Jr. (1990). 'Soft power', Foreign policy, No.80,
pp153-171;Nye J. S. Jr. (1990). The changing nature of world power.
Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 105 no. 2, pp177-192. Back