In this chapter it will be attempted to provide an analysis of the topic of the thesis in order to reach a conclusion and as clear an answer for the problem formulation as possible. The analytical chapter will be divided in four main sections. The first section will attempt to analyse the problem through the application of the soft power theory, the second section from the perspective of neorealism and the third from the perspective of constructivism. In the fourth section the findings of the three preceding sections will be held up against each other and discussed. This final analytical discussion will in the end provide a basis for the final conclusion of the thesis.
This chapter seeks to provide an explanatory model for the problem formulation through the lens of soft power. As the problem formulation is divided in to three steps so will this chapter. At first it will be explored why ministries of foreign affairs have made moves to reinvent themselves through the introduction of rather new concepts such as public diplomacy, nation branding and cultural diplomacy. After this it will be explored whether or not these new approaches signify a more efficient way of reaching foreign policy goals. Finally it will be explored whether this constitutes a breakthrough in international relations from the viewpoint of soft power theory.
When considering why these new communicative and open approaches to conducting diplomacy towards a wider group than traditional diplomacy it is necessary to look at the basic motivations of the states behind the diplomacy. Throughout time the areas of competition between states have been moving from the core hard power areas of economic and military affairs to increasingly include soft power areas as well – this has to especially be seen in the light of wars generally has become too destructive.
If it is becoming more difficult to coerce other states in to doing what you want then it is possible to utilize the more subtle approach to power mentioned in the theoretical section – namely to persuade them to think that your goal is identical with their goal. Public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy can then be seen as tools of increasing other publics understanding and sympathy of one’s cause and thereby in turn make these people pressure there governments to act favourable towards the sending state – or at least not hostile. As mentioned in the theoretical presentation of soft power, it is necessary for a government to increase its credibility to increase its soft power and that is exactly the same case as with public diplomacy and how public diplomacy is distinguishable from its cousin propaganda. The same goes for the necessity to listen to what others has to say and be focused on the dialogue instead of just the monologue. All these points suggest that the new approaches to conducting diplomacy have come in place because of the recognition of the value of soft power.
A final note to this area is why the initiatives primarily have been introduced in Europe and North America. It could likely be because there are directed more resources in to trying out new approaches in these countries’ ministries of foreign affairs but there could also be another cause of this. As mentioned in the theoretical presentation of soft power that states which are closer to the predominant values and ideologies in the world will command a vaster soft power than countries further away from the predominant ideologies. Since the end of the Cold War these values has generally been dictated by the United States – why it is namely this and fairly similar countries which focus on these new approaches to conducting foreign relations.
In accordance with the theory of soft power the increased focus on public diplomacy can signify a more efficient way of reaching foreign policy goals assuming that these goals are fairly standard ones such as improving one’s economy, international standing and political positioning. As mentioned in the theoretical chapter these initiatives cannot stand alone as it is just one part of a bigger soft power picture and one could fear that this is not always realized. Complementary areas to increase soft power could include generous contributions of development aid, strong profile in peacekeeping operations or a tolerant and fair treatment of domestic minorities. Areas such as these will more often be guided by either domestic or hard power (economic) concerns rather than soft power concerns – development aid will be cut due to budget concerns, domestic minorities will experience high levels of intolerance in order to increase support amongst more nationalist minded segments of the electorate etc. This can easily result in public diplomacy not being able to achieve results to its fullest potential as it does not receive the backing it needs in other areas.
Furthermore the concept of nation branding could pose a problem to the success of public diplomacy. As nation branding is quite focused on commercial principles and has the attention of the private sector its primary goal is to benefit the area of economic power – i.e. the second chessboard. This can be unfortunate for the possibilities for success in the area of public diplomacy. The reason for this is that nation branding in itself does not have to follow the complete truth – rather it is about creating images and artificially awaken emotional attachments to a location. In this way it diverges from one of the basic principles of soft power and public diplomacy – namely to stick to the truth and increase credibility. In this way the concept of nation branding is counter productive to public diplomacy and thereby to increase soft power.
Breakthrough in international relations
As it has been established that public diplomacy cannot reach its potential due to other factors such as remaining hard power concerns, domestic concerns and the counter productive element of nation branding, the introduction of public diplomacy does not constitute a breakthrough in the basic principles in international relations – it rather seems like an initiative taken with all the best intentions but to limited effect.
If it is assumed that public diplomacy did not have these current hindrances – would it then plausibly signify a change in the basic principles of international relations? I.e. if all the necessary support was in place for the public diplomacy efforts and the main attention of foreign relations policy was on soft power. In a way it a change would be plausible in that major armed conflict has grown increasingly rare and obsolete but then again the focus on soft power is basically just taking the international competition to another chessboard and states will remain as competitive as always. The introduction of public diplomacy would therefore signify yet another tool of power rather than a way to increase cooperation.
When viewing public diplomacy through the lens of the theory of soft power it explains that public diplomacy has come to existence because the state actors see soft power as real power and therefore worthwhile competing over. But as public diplomacy often will stand alone without the necessary support of other policy areas, it does not at the moment signify a more efficient means of reaching foreign policy goals or constitute a fundamental breakthrough in international relations.
If public diplomacy at one time receives the necessary backing of other areas and focus on soft power will rise to prominence alongside economic, domestic and military concerns it can potentially be a very important competitive tool of power between states. It is still unlikely though that there will be any significant change in the basic principles of international relations.