Soft Power and the American Virus

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I think Matthew Yglesias is letting his desire to disagree with Michael Goldfarb get in the way of his judgment, because McDonald’s on the Champs Elysées is not “soft power.” And if “that kind of thing is the real strength of the United States of America,” it is a strength that reflects cultural hegemony, as Goldfarb implies, not influence. This gets to a growing misuse of the idea of “soft power,” which has to do with a nation’s ability to influence through attraction, not coercion. To begin with, the exercise of soft power for the most part resides in statecraft. […]


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