Some years ago, Joseph Nye, a long time member of various Administrations, coined the concept soft power, which is the power of essentially goodness, and the ability to have nations want to emulate us.  Like our Peace Corps where young people -possibly college grads or post-graduate students, who enter foreign countries with efforts to better those countries and make them want to emulate us. There are a number of efforts that help soft power, which is contrasted with our hard power-our military power!

George Kennan, a diplomat of the Cold War, focused on both without the terminology.  He knew then that we had one enemy, which was the old Soviet Union!  While in Moscow in the 1950s; he sent a telegram to the US embassy there urging the “US to  grasp the clarity of the authoritarian threat, strengthen our military resolve and the capacity of other democracies to deter and control authoritarian ambition in Europe and Asia.” He called our best asset our democracy, which ,of course, is Nye’s Soft Power.  

Today, in these days, the US confronts not a single determined authoritarian power, but 2 big ones, and others.  Freedom and democracy remain our best efforts, but actions in Washington are not something to emulate these, and truth be told countries like Italy, Hungary, and others are slowly being pealed off NATO by Russia.  George Kennan and Joseph Nye knew what they were talking about.  We need to clean house and keep faith in our democracy, and freedom, as to lose them would be a tragedy!

Bill Weightman, Stockholm-