After the Second World War, the Cold War era between the US and the USSR lasted four decades and ended with the total collapse and dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991. This epic confrontation between America and the Soviet Union was a new kind of war with no armies or battles. Instead, the tools of ‘Soft Power’ were the dominant force in the US and gave them the upper hand in the war and eventually led for them to win.
In the 1990s, Harvard professor Joseph Nye coined a new term ‘Soft Power’. He wrote several books describing the American use of power in its policies and all the different variables involved, and he made a prediction about America’s power in many of his books. He warned that the US’s ‘soft power’ will be eliminated by the Iraqi and Afghan war and predicted that the US’s ‘soft power” will be transferred from the West to the East with the rise of Asian ‘soft power’ in China and India.
In this article, I will discuss the nature of the use of ‘soft power’ and how the US utilized it in its foreign policy during the eras of George W. Bush, Obama and Donald Trump; and how the administrations have variously used ‘hard power’, ‘soft power’ and ‘smart power.’
Bush and use of hard power
The Obama period
Obama’s strategy in using soft power in a lot of crises, especially the Syrian one, was a big mistake and it failed to bring down the Syrian regime. It even gave Russia a political gain in Syria and the Arab region. Obama was reluctant to use the military to bring down Assad, although the Syrian President was using chemical weapons against his own people.Dr. Naif Alotaibi
John Brennan, Obama’s advisor said: “We will use ‘soft power’, diplomatic and economic power to defeat the extremist methods that were never used by the Bush administration.”
One indicator showing the Obama administration’s interest in ‘soft power’, was that a control room (situation room) was named the Soft Power Control Operations Room. Obama used the strategy of transforming competitors into partners, and taking into account their lack of superiority over America.
He preferred diplomatic solutions and negotiations to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, which infuriated US allies in the Middle East. He was the first US president since 1979 to address the Iranian people directly and to use terms such as the “the Islamic republic” rather than “the Iranian regime.”
After the Arab Spring, Obama tried to contain the Islamic organizations that won the elections in the Arab world. He also promised to close Guantanamo prison and to stop torturing terrorist suspects. It should be noted, however, that those promises were not fulfilled.
In conclusion, we could say that Obama’s strategy in using soft power in a lot of crises, especially the Syrian one, was a big mistake and it failed to bring down the Syrian regime. It even gave Russia a political gain in Syria and the Arab region. Obama was reluctant to use the military to bring down Assad, although the Syrian President was using chemical weapons against his own people.