Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Can We Recover Our Soft Power?

| June 09, 2020

The United States is involved in three simultaneous crises — a pandemic, economic collapse, and protests against racism — which are hurting us both at home and abroad. Where others once admired us for our competence and values, we are now losing our attractiveness. Recent polls show a serious decline in American soft power around the world.

Can we recover it? We have done so before. Our focus on the current crises can lead us to forget the capacity of this country for resilience and reform that is our hope.

In the 1960s, our cities were in flames over racial protests, and we were mired in the Vietnam War. I remember a bomb exploding in my office building at Harvard, and massive protests in the streets outside. I remember my despair at the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy — and the racist rhetoric of George Wallace and Richard Nixon. Yet in the following decade, a series of reforms passed Congress, and the honesty of Gerald Ford, the human rights policies of Jimmy Carter and the unifying optimism of Ronald Reagan proved to be restorative....

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For Academic Citation:

Nye, Joseph S. Jr."Can We Recover Our Soft Power?" The Hill, June 9, 2020.