Aggressive Power Beats You Up; Soft Power Wins You Over

by S. Nawazish Ali - 19 July, 2021, 12:00 2006 Views 0 Comment

Concept of Power in International Relations

According to realism, gaining more and more power is human nature in International politics. Justice and law have no value in front of power. If the security of the community is under threat realists believe that all the obligations and treaties must be omitted.

 On the contrary liberalism, power is defined through Individual liberty, free trade, prosperity, interdependence, national self-determination, open governments responsive to public opinion, collective security, a world government with powers to mediate and enforce decisions (Balance of power). The rise of globalization, a technological revolution in terms of a new liberal theory that is associated with soft power.

On the one end, hard power is the ability to get what you want from others by hook or crook whereas the ability to shape the other’s preferences with the capacity to inspire and attract e.g. cultural power, the power of ideas and ideals are the elements of soft power.

Importance of Soft Power in Political Arena

The four characteristics of soft power were described by David Baldwin in 1993 that influence international relations;

  1. Commercial and Republican
  2. Sociological
  3. Liberal institutionalism 

The Commercial and Republican: The commercial and Republican are the elements of soft power and are interlinked because the democratic states prefer to cooperate with others especially on the economic ground and did not use hard power to resolve the domestic and international issues. On this ground, the democratic states are promoting multinational cooperations like US fast-food franchises e.g. Mc Donald’s and Starbucks, educational institutions that are working globally. Similarly, the scholarship programs for foreign students create attractiveness and they are also welcome in the USA, Germany, China, Australia Sweden, England, etc. to promote their cultures, traditions, and ideologies. The role of media is another tool of creating attraction worldwide in which social media applications such as Twitter, YouTube, My Space, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are also playing an important role in sharing culture, knowledge, employment, and ideas, etc.

Sociological liberalism: Interdependency is the key element for a community or a state. For instance, in the present scenario of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), they are going to sign the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal of $ 400 billion. It will not be only a win-win deal for IRI and PRC, but also reduce the US hegemony. The upcoming deal of both states will play a vital role to spread economic prosperity not only for them but for their neighboring countries.

Liberal Institutionalism: In 1944, the Breton wood System was established in which three institutions created the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and General Agreement of Trade (GAT). Later on, in GAT, the tariff was added and consider it General Agreement of Trade and Tariff. In 1992, this GATT was reshaped and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established. These institutions played a role as a backbone for the western economic structure that was destroyed due to World War I and World War II. Similarly, the second major role played by the United Nations (UN) is in which countries share their sovereignty collaboratively and protecting their national interest under its umbrella. For instance, Iraq did not accept the sovereignty of Kuwait and consider her an artificial state created by the imperialist powers. The western lobby that fully supports Saddam Hussain during the Iraq-Iran war will not defend Kuwait against Iraq aggression was the miscalculation of Saddam Hussain. The military action against Kuwait in 1990 was opened the door for the UN to impose economic sanctions on Iraq. On the other hand, operation, Desert Storm was started that destroyed the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq. After this war, President George H. Bush declared a “new world order”. The theme of this order was to settle the disputes peacefully, solidarity against aggression, reduced and control arsenals, and just treatment of all people.

The European Union (EU) is playing a role for the regional community and encouraging MNC’s in the production of Coal and Steel. The consequences of globalization like terrorism, drug trafficking, pandemics like HIV/AIDS are not the state’s unilaterally concern. It should be resolved through the state’s cooperation. Like the most recent Covid-19, the World Health Organisation is still connecting with the different states to find out the solution.

The nuclear deal of P5+1 was another example of soft power among countries. Cooperation, sharing of interest, and economic interdependence were the ideologies of this deal, which helped Iran to expand her socioeconomic relations in the Middle East.

Soft Power Practice in Pakistan

Ironically, Pakistan’s soft image has been brutally mutilated by non-state actors, terrorism, the killing of Osama Bin Laden in operation Neptune Star, religious extremist organization, volatile, security environment, low literacy rate, and negligent governance. The soft power in Pakistan cannot exist unless the security situation improves which can attract tourists, delegations, students, etc.

Opportunity for Pakistan

Notwithstanding all the above problems Pakistan is blessed with a geostrategic location and is a culturally rich country. She also provides a variety of tourist attractions domestically and internationally. Pakistan can practice soft power through its culture, geostrategic position, mineral resources, and foreign policies. Even though the constraints may exist in other countries also but they are still able to maintain a soft image successfully. The only need is good governance and a strong political structure. 


Soft power is the only way to spread peace and prosperity in the global world unanimously. It can also reduce the threat of war and improve the socio-economic structure under an anarchic situation. Those countries that analyzed and adopted soft power not only build their socio-economic and political structure, multilateralism, economic diplomacy, and good neighbourly policies also influence the other countries to adopt their ideologies.

S. Nawazish Ali
Author is a M. Phil Scholar of International Relations.

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