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Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

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Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 05 Mar 2015 23:02

This notion is meant to think outside the box when combating one’s enemy, especially terrorism. I thought about this when I came to know a former Tamil Tiger cadre, named “Oppilan”, who operated as a mole and was willingly providing intelligence to India’s foreign intelligence agency RAW, while Oppilan himself held a position in the Tiger organization’s notorious intelligence wing.

Oppilan later confessed during an interview that he worked with the RAW operatives between the periods of 1992-95 when the agency conducted a covert operation against Tamil Tigers in order to oust its leader V. Pirabhakaran, following the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. When the Tamil Tigers began to investigate and arrest many Tiger cadres and other operatives who were involved in this conspiracy, Oppilan ran away and surrendered to the Sri Lankan military in June 1995.

Oppilan, who surrendered with invaluable information that was used against the Tigers to recapture the Jaffna peninsula in October 1995 during a Sri Lankan military operation code-named "Riviresa". Afterwards he was relocated by the Sri Lankan military intelligence to a foreign country where Oppilan had played a key role in dismantling the Tamil Tigers’ international operations until the terrorist organization was militarily defeated in May 2009.

Oppilan has now settled down in a western country with his entire family, says that he did all this because he was indoctrinated by the south Indian popular culture, especially the melodious music of Ilaiyaraaja and A.R. Rahman through which he felt a brotherhood with Indians!

He says, it is hard for him to describe how crucially important music has been in his life. From the Hindu bhajans praising God, to the sweet, romantic South Indian cinema music of Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman, he feels that music has taught him and inspired him to a higher purpose. It has almost been like a drug to him, helping him to escape the sometimes unthinkable realities of his life and to hope and believe that other things were possible, he says.

When A.R Rahman's hit film music first album ‘Roja’ came out, he couldn’t resist secretly going to his parent’s home and listening to it, because in the Tiger organization it was prohibited to listen music or watch any romantic films. Rahman’s music is a really a beautiful combination of western and eastern style of music, he says. When the Tiger cadres would leave the camps, they would hear this music in the air and in the papers they would read about cinema and entertainment. Oppilan was tired of listening to Tiger news about war and death; he would try to distract himself by reading the papers and listening to this music. It could even be said that A.R Rahman’s music finally saved him in a way as it was more powerful than Tigers’ brainwashing bullshit!

Point here is that, I believe, India could utilize and balance its soft power and hard power when combating terrorism. Mother India’s popular culture is so rich that can be greatly applied against hardcore individuals and enemy organizations. Oppilan’s story is not the first one; we know that the Beatles music was used to undermine the idea of communism.

Here is an article on how Americans are using their “Popular Culture as a Means of Soft Power”:

This essay will examine the use of popular culture as a means of America’s soft power in world politics. The importance of soft power is being increasingly recognized as more countries seek to persuade rather than coerce. Soft power can be achieved by the country’s foreign policies which consider other countries’ interest. As revealed by Pew Global Attitudes Project, U.S.’s global image continues to be largely favorable with the exception of Muslim countries. In addition to policies, popular culture is also an effective means of soft power. In this essay, America’s use of popular culture as a means of soft power in world politics is examined through the use of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Hollywood, both of which are great promoters and exporters of Americanism. In concluding this essay, it is proposed that U.S.’s success in world politics is best achieved through the use of smart power – a combination of both hard power and soft power.


http://www.academia.edu/4961144/Popular ... Soft_Power
Popular Culture as a means of Soft Power
Last edited by Tuan on 06 Mar 2015 10:39, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Tuvaluan » 06 Mar 2015 02:10

Was it really just music that changed oppilan's mind or just part of the overall atmosphere of a peaceful life not ravaged daily by death and destruction? Music may not always work in the above manner, AFAICT. For example, a lot of hard core jihadis in Pakistan and elsewhere are also fans of rock and roll and other genres, even as they fully support jihadi ideology, or at the very least incur no cognitive dissonance between loving american music while supporting groups that want to destroy america.

I guess my point is that music may not be a causal factor in changing such a mindset -- it has to be either part of a larger group of variables, or some other psychological desire that causes such a change in mindset. Would western classical music or the Beatles have had such a similar effect on Oppilan -- both of them are accessible in Tamilnadu? Or was it the fact that Ilayaraja produces music that is closer to the "being" of oppilan's frame of mind and where he is at mentally speaking? Seems more likely that Oppilan's own mind had a notion of music representing peace and tranquility, and he went searching for it, before he broke out of the mold.

Maybe the people/peoples who wrote the islamic doctrines favored by the hard-core islamists were well aware of the effect of the arts (soft power) on the unwavering focus of a fundamentalist with a black and white point of view, which may explain why no music or dancing is "allowed", or for that matter drawing images of Mohammed...we all know that a lot of good art can come from very religious people putting all their religious imagery into pictures....though whether such leaning reduce the leanings to commit terrorism seem a little dubious. Almost seems like you would have to know the mental/psychological profile of a person before knowing what would work for that person.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Shreeman » 06 Mar 2015 02:57

Someone is on a thread creating binge, I must say.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Tuan » 06 Mar 2015 03:31

Tuvaluan - I was telling Opillan’s story so that we can explore other options and tools to combat terrorism by the means of non-military strategies.

Of course, music is a small aspect of a nation’s popular culture, as a nation always has lot to offer. Remember, according to Sun Tzu, the best way to win a war is without even fighting it.

As such, eliminating the will to fight and destroying the spirit of the enemy’s potential to fight is also paramount.

An ideology has to be fought with another set of ideologies, rather than by swords and guns; may it be a religious ideology, ethno-nationalist ideology or secessionist ideology.

What I am trying to say here is that: “Don’t use cannon to kill a mosquito….” - Confucius

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby arshyam » 06 Mar 2015 03:45

Tuan-ji, you do have a point.

Anyone familiar with southern India will instantly identify with the 'Chinna chinna asai' song in Roja, to quote one example. A Tamil speaking person will identify with it even more. A person living in war-torn northern SL of the 80s/'90s will likely be swayed by such songs, simply because a)it is in a language they understand, and b) the message combined with the locations are very similar to their surroundings in SL and they would want such to see such bliss in their homeland. Anyway, this is only one song, and is music, only one of the components that add up to soft power: art, religion, philosophy, food, language, etc.

(I see Tuvaluan saar has expressed similar thoughts)

Whether the anecdote you mentioned is true or not, there is a definite advantage to soft power, as it is seen as organic and not directed by any govt., so is more acceptable. Same goes for Hindi films shown throughout the subcontinent and West Asia.

So how do you think we could leverage such soft power to further our interests?

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Tuvaluan » 06 Mar 2015 03:50

according to Sun Tzu, the best way to win a war is without even fighting it.


Tuan, of course, that does not preclude the possibility of have other people fighting your war by proxy... but the other point is that some ideologies are impervious to soft power because the ideology itself disallows arts or culture or creative expression, with very rigid boundaries. Soft power and psychological moulding is of no use in such cases.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby shiv » 06 Mar 2015 05:39

This is actually a very interesting topic. I think it would help to define "soft power" and how it emerges from a society. It is, at a basic level "mind control without active coercion" - that is, someone from above is not telling to you do or think something but you and most people around you end up thinking that something without being told to see things that way.

Someone had posted a series of videos (totalling several hours actually) showing the influence of Freud on Europe and how Sigmund Freud's nephew influenced the US. A lot of what I see as "American behaviour" can be traced back to things thought up by this guy (Edward Bernays). What Bernays did was to co-opt the state (the government and private organizations) into employing soft power over its own people.

This actually gets me to the topic of whether soft power is always good or not. Soft power can be used effectively and negatively. if you bring up all children to think that blacks are bad (or that blue eyed people are good, as was demonstrated in a video posted here recently) you have soft power being used negatively. At a very basic psychological level soft power is about associating feelings of happiness, comfort and security with certain ideas and associating pain and distress with certain other ideas. I won't go much further than this except to say that soft power has a moral dimension and we have to decide on what moral boundaries are allowable in soft power. Fundamentalist Islamic societies use a mixture of soft and coercive (hard) power on children to churn out adults who see the world as one that can be good only when Islam dominates.

Changing these people is not always easy. One option is hard power - simply kill them and scare the crap out of them, but this option reinforces all the stereotypes about the behaviour of the "enemy".

Using soft power to change mindsets is definitely a challenge. Gandhi did that effectively and concepts like "turning the other cheek" (as opposed to eye for an eye) are elements of soft power. My thoughts on this are centered around the idea that soft power cannot be exerted until the ability (or willingness) of an opposing party to use hard coercive power is eroded.
Last edited by shiv on 06 Mar 2015 07:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Vayutuvan » 06 Mar 2015 06:12

Sorry to be crass but but - I would rather that terrorism is combated using shaft power, i.e. insert a shaft up their behinds with a lot of force and skewer a score of them at a time.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby shiv » 06 Mar 2015 07:12

:D

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby abhischekcc » 06 Mar 2015 12:26

Shaft power works better than soft power.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby harbans » 06 Mar 2015 13:36

Soft power does work and that is the point Tuan made whilst stating also that the LTTE banned people from listening to music, entertainment etc. This is noticed in many terror and fascist movements that to sustain the propaganda it becomes necessary to block soft power avenues from influencing people. So certainly there is merit, else totalitarian ideologies would not seek to ban them so ruthlessly. How long does one thing Barbaria or IS will survive if they allow Bolly/Tolly/Holly woods to freely shell out their wares to the public at large. Even if soft power is used to increase the sphere of influence it is decreasing the threat ot terror by varying degrees to an extent.

When we have to fight a totalitarian political-religiously garbed ideology like what the IS cephalothorax represents we can only go so far as breaking the spider legs without convincing billions about how flawed the excluvist totalitarian approach their ideology represents really is. I would find it hard for Xtians for example to ideologically convince the Jihadi about violence in his ideology considering it's own chequered and excluvist recent past. Soft power thus not only should ideally include music, films it should also include ideological battle fronts and ideas. India is far better equipped for this than the West is. The ideological content within Indic thought is so vast and deep it can thoroughly crack excluvist ideological fronts with ease if focussed well.

We need to remember every terrorist who assaults India, is deeply convinced we have no depth of ideology. He/she is taken in by the propaganda of Idol, rat/cow worshippers. They have no clue the depth of philosophical and ideological literature that we possess. Seculars have done their best not to bring forward that front. We go about trying to douse fires without getting to the source of ignition.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 06 Mar 2015 22:28

arshyam wrote: So how do you think we could leverage such soft power to further our interests?


Good question indeed!

Let me highlight from, Jane Harman, a nine-term American Congresswoman and former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who is president and chief executive of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

I know that the article states -assuming- the world order is still function as unipolar but the fact is that the new world order is increasingly becoming multipolar, AFAICT. Nonetheless, the article points out a message to the rest of the global powers that how to combat terrorism via soft power.

Fighting terrorism softly
By Jane Harman
"Too often since 9/11," then-Sen. Barack Obama said during the last presidential campaign, "the extremists have defined us, not the other way around." In a major counterterrorism policy speech at the Wilson Center in Washington, Obama vowed that would change if he became president. "We will author our own story," he said.

Unfortunately, one of the greatest security threats to this country continues to be the hijacking not only of our airplanes, but also of our national narrative. Many Americans think that the United States' primary role in the world is the projection of military might. And while the "hard power" represented by drone strikes and aircraft carriers is essential to our security, living and portraying our values is as - if not more - important in the long run.

The terrorists on the so-called "baseball cards" that the president and his advisers review before authorizing drone strikes are already beyond the point of no return -responsible either for directly killing Americans or inciting others to do so.

But what about the young people who perhaps see the aftermath of a drone strike and are still trying to decide whether or not to strap on that suicide vest? Whose story do we want them to hear? Ours or that of the extremists?

While the drone program is an effective tool to combat al Qaeda, "whack-a-mole" alone won't keep us safe. We need to win the argument.


Unfortunately, showcasing our values to the world has become increasingly difficult given Congress's lack of cohesiveness and eroding support for foreign aid. Blame-game politics has shifted the emphasis from creative ideas to crippling ideology, making it nearly impossible to raise and debate some of the toughest issues facing this country today.

As a result, we are perilously close to losing control of our own narrative, allowing extremists to slip in and define what we believe in and what we stand for in the post-9/11 world. Foggy laws and a lack of information surrounding targeted killings, preventive detention, and interrogation techniques have made it far too easy for terrorists to shape and spread their own story. And they will continue to use any stains on our record (think: Abu Ghraib) as ammunition.

So how can we "author our own story”?

One of the most powerful ways to project American values and define our interests is to display generosity and compassion in the wake of natural disasters. While the primary role of the military should not be to oversee recovery efforts after an earthquake, our extraordinary competence at staging disaster relief allows the US to puts its best face forward for those who might not otherwise see it.


At a panel on security resilience at the World Economic Forum in Bangkok last month, I outlined how the United States had the chance to showcase its better angels after several recent disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Thai floods, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear disaster.

Following these catastrophes, the U.S. provided more than just "hard" assistance designed to save lives. In Thailand, Americans and Thais packed and delivered food, donated blood, and gathered supplies together. In Japan, U.S. forces cleared rubble from schools. And in both places, Americans opened their homes to displaced colleagues and children.

These efforts had a direct impact on U.S. relations with the affected countries. Japanese Cabinet office polls registered record levels of public goodwill towards the U.S. after the rescue efforts, and 85% of Japanese viewed the United States positively in Pew's annual Global Attitude Project survey in 2011 - up from 66% the year before.


Ironically, our best foreign policy tool may be our generosity. Building trust both with citizens and governments after natural disasters can help increase future collaboration on other key issues-with counterterrorism topping the list. The capture of Indonesian-born terrorist Hambali, who was seized in Bangkok by Thai authorities, in many ways exemplifies the importance of establishing and maintaining these liaison relationships.


The war against al Qaeda and its affiliates is new in so many ways: Our enemies don't wear uniforms, the battleground isn't clearly defined, and the conflict is potentially never-ending. Still, some old war lessons might apply.

In a new book called “Elusive Victories: The American Presidency at War,” political science professor Andrew J. Polsky draws on numerous historical examples to show that presidents at war are not as powerful as they think. Once conflict begins, they find themselves constrained by their earlier decisions. "I claim not to have controlled events," Abraham Lincoln wrote in a letter during the Civil War, "but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

Just as presidents lose control over events during wartime, they can also have difficulty holding on to a coherent narrative.

One of the biggest surprises of Barack Obama's presidency is that the cerebral law professor has emerged as an extraordinarily strong commander-in-chief, successfully targeting many of the world's most dangerous terrorists. Meanwhile, for the eloquent leader who promised to "author our own story," winning the war of words has become an even greater challenge.

While the president can't control every contingency on the ground, he (and Congress) has a responsibility to craft a winning narrative. When we fail to step up and define ourselves, the extremists will be happy to do it for us.


http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/1 ... y-opinion/

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 07 Mar 2015 03:01

Ironically, our best foreign policy tool may be our generosity. Building trust both with citizens and governments after natural disasters can help increase future collaboration on other key issues-with counterterrorism topping the list. The capture of Indonesian-born terrorist Hambali, who was seized in Bangkok by Thai authorities, in many ways exemplifies the importance of establishing and maintaining these liaison relationships.


That article seems to be mostly wishful thinking -- if the goal is to getting a winning narrative in nations with a hostile population on the average. Firstly, doing acts of generosity does not translate into goodwill if the population is inherently hostile --- they will take your help and still be willing to plant a knife in your back. I mean, isn't this just another version of the "gujral doctrine"? And what good did that doctrine do to further India's interests.

The article seems to say that the chain is:

create goodwill in target country using soft power and "acts of generosity" --> establish a narrative that works in your favor --> use that to establish long term relations on the ground --> presumably this creates the ground to turn narrative to work against any local narrative pushed by the target country's establisment

To be fair, the above tactic has worked recently in Bangladesh but that is only after the elimination of the hostile BNP/Khaleda/islamist factions that were competent at using violence to further their political goals, and also competent in creating hostile counter narratives against India, and silencing anyone using force, if they tried to work against their hostile counter narrartive.

The more friendly Hasina government has been working with India, but all that it is going to take to reverse these trends is another BNP-like government to come to power down the line, the chances of this increase in the absence of continuous engagement on the ground.

In the absence of elimination of hostile entities that can also create a counter narrative to work against whatever foreign narrative is presented -- example, countering aid to local populace by creating misinformation about polio viruses, as in pakistan. Or as in China and the Arab despots, all such narrative is censored and blocked, and any news of assistance on whatever front is played down, like how the pakis wanted all the labels of "aid from India" ripped out if they were to be allowed to help locals (in this case, the recent earthquakes in Pok).

The US starts new wars every thursday evening, and spreads itself out thin and establishes its reputation as a war mongering nation, and it is hard to see how providing aid in some locales is enough to counter this image as a warmongering nation. Fighting fewer wars would be a start, but the opposite seems to be happening, so it is weird that this person on CNN thinks more PR work in the form of aid and generosity will help counter the more established narrative of a country that is fighting wars in Asia and Europe, and more that one at any given time.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Tuan » 07 Mar 2015 04:31

Tuvaluan - Every cloud has silver lining; meaning even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect. But you seem to filter the main point from that article to obtain the waste and argue here for the sake of an argument.

Could you please summarize the article in one sentence and see if it is telling you a story?

arshyam wrote:Anyone familiar with southern India will instantly identify with the 'Chinna chinna asai' song in Roja, to quote one example. A Tamil speaking person will identify with it even more. A person living in war-torn northern SL of the 80s/'90s will likely be swayed by such songs, simply because a)it is in a language they understand, and b) the message combined with the locations are very similar to their surroundings in SL and they would want such to see such bliss in their homeland.


I agree! My favourite AR Rahman’s album to date is his “Vande Mataram” by Columbia Records.

What is special in that album is that among other beautiful tracks, Rahman brought Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan and made him sing “Gurus of Peace” with him, thereby killing people in Pakistan kindly and softly.

Moreover, according to Wikipedia, it was released on the Golden Jubilee anniversary of India's independence and has been instrumental in instilling a sense of patriotic pride and national unity amongst the people of India. Ever since release, both the album and its title song "Maa Tujhe Salaam" have had a profoundly positive and unifying impact on the nationalistic and patriotic mood of the country.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby shiv » 07 Mar 2015 05:12

Tuvaluan wrote:
The US starts new wars every thursday evening, and spreads itself out thin and establishes its reputation as a war mongering nation, and it is hard to see how providing aid in some locales is enough to counter this image as a warmongering nation. Fighting fewer wars would be a start, but the opposite seems to be happening, so it is weird that this person on CNN thinks more PR work in the form of aid and generosity will help counter the more established narrative of a country that is fighting wars in Asia and Europe, and more that one at any given time.

LOL

The US is the world's best example of exerting hard coercive power first and then claiming that it was soft power.

The only dependable fact about soft power is "Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow". Soft power cannot be exerted effectively until you have the ability to dominate the other physically.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Shreeman » 07 Mar 2015 05:43

Soft power is like soap. It works only with "educated" or what some call "moderately enlightened" water. So, if you wanted to evangelise christianity in bastar then sure it is fine. But if you wanted to promote peace in Basra, not so much.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 07 Mar 2015 08:04

But you seem to filter the main point from that article to obtain the waste and argue here for the sake of an argument.


Tuan, No need to get defensive. I suggest you actually take a look at how much India's soft power, when not backed by military power, has actually got India. Not to mention it would help if you clearly spelt out the main point that CNN article is making, because most of it is just spin. The US is not a benign power so any attempt to portray it as one by acts of generosity and kissing small children for the cameras is unlikely to yield any results, given the context of the US's actions in the past few decades.


Piddly countries like Maldives, while openly taking advantage of India's friendly policies, find that they will not incur risks by thumbing their nose at India...because the worst that India can do so is send some really bad music and movies their way, if India actually gave more weightage to soft power than hard power (which is not actually the case these days, even if it was mostly true during the MMS's years).

Now I understand that you are speaking in terms of terrorists/seccessionists and their ilk -- so maybe if you want to turn the fence sitters to go one way rather than the other, then it helps to play a useful and helpful role, like the Indian army is doing, notwithstanding all the whining by the pro-jiadhi muslims in Kashmir who whine about the AFSPA knowing fully well that removing the army will only cause a resumption in Paki terrorism.

I think a judicious mixture of hard and soft power gets results, and this has been practised by India sometimes, but the problem is that every side understand the value of soft power, which is indistinguishable from propaganda after a point. I would agree with Shiv's view that soft power is only useful when backed by hard power -- otherwise, it is useless, and Indian foreign policy has been a good example of that in the past, when piddly neighbours made it a point to shove a stick in India's eye -- lot of good India's soft power (not backed by military/economic/hard power) did for its interests, wouldn't you say?

I also understand what you are saying, like for example, how South Korean pop start Psy changes people's view of Korea or how RajaniKanth influences people in Japan, but these things cannot be planned -- India just has to create the environment that allows talented people to rise to the top and become popular worldwide...the US has created a system that allows the creation of such people, and it is almost like a machine at this point, looking at marketing stats of what each generation likes and then letting the commercial machinery in the music industry create a 100 clones in that genre.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 07 Mar 2015 20:44

Tuvaluan - I neither defend Americans nor myself.

In fact I was pinpointing where the self-proclaimed super power is making a blunder.

To sum it up, the author is actually criticizing Obama administration’s counterterrorism strategy by saying, many Americans think that the United States' primary role in the world is the projection of military might. And while the "hard power" represented by drone strikes and aircraft carriers is essential to our security, living and portraying our values is as - if not more - important in the long run.

I also agree with you and Shiv that soft power is only useful when backed by hard power! As I pointed out here global power politics could be best achieved through the use of “smart power” – a combination of both hard power and soft power.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 08 Mar 2015 00:05

*edited
Last edited by Tuan on 08 Mar 2015 00:35, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby member_23692 » 08 Mar 2015 00:20

Soft power without hard power is just Soft.

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Re: Combating terrorism using soft power

Postby Gus » 08 Mar 2015 00:42

Tuvaluan wrote:Music may not always work in the above manner, AFAICT. For example, a lot of hard core jihadis in Pakistan and elsewhere are also fans of rock and roll and other genres, even as they fully support jihadi ideology, or at the very least incur no cognitive dissonance between loving american music while supporting groups that want to destroy america.


well rock music does bring passions out..while raja's melodies can soothe even the most raw person...

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby RamaY » 08 Mar 2015 02:51

Since USA and Europe are currently involved in a Global War Against Terror, I recommend this out-of-box solution to them against ISIS.

India, being a communal & pagan Hindu majority country, should continue with Shaft power.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 08 Mar 2015 19:32

Tuan wrote:I also agree with you and Shiv that soft power is only useful when backed by hard power! As I pointed out here global power politics could be best achieved through the use of “smart power” – a combination of both hard power and soft power.


Tuan, that oft-quote Joseph-Nye-ism is usually very low on specifics, which makes it mostly useless. I mean, clearly "smartly" using tools available to enhance power (like military, arts, culture etc.) is better than not using them smartly. But the rub is the extent each needs to be applied in a given context, and Nye's generalities do not really provide any pointers on how these should be applied by a practitioner of these concepts.

It is not clear to me how "negative soft power" that is created by starting wars around the world, creating a mess of it and leaving, can be countered by providing acts of charity in some other parts of the world. At best, it creates cynicism about the "positive soft power" being created for the purposes of using hard power in third party observers (assuming they are the audience here).

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby arshyam » 08 Mar 2015 21:20

Tuan, when you started this thread, I was hoping you'd have some specific ideas about how to go about this, but you have only posted a long wishy-washy article from some US policy wonk.

Soft power is notorious to leverage effectively, and in fact, can be argued that it cannot be wielded at all, as that implies some form of control over something that is essentially organic. Your example of the disillusioned LTTE fighter is a case in point - no one asked Ilaiyaraja or Rahman to compose what they did, or broadcast it. So it can be argued that the govt of India did nothing to 'wield' the soft power here. It was the beneficiary. So how can it use such a 'power' effectively?

I can think of a few things, let's see what you guys think of it:

Firstly, a word on a long term project. Since soft power is essentially projected by ordinary people, we need to empower our public with enough info about out own culture. Most of us know about traditions like Deepavali, Pongal, etc., but not about why somethings are done the way they are, for example, why do temples have a water tank attached to them, or why we hold all forms of life worthy of respect, thereby ensuring animal conservation, etc. Of course, no one knows about our achievements in any field worth studying, be it engineering, medicine, science, mathematics, literature, philosophy, administration, etc. These gaps in understanding need to be addressed by reforming education and make it more Indianised, instilling some pride in ourselves. Such inbuilt pride translates into confidence when dealing with the world, and also enable us to be ambassadors of our own culture, unlike the present situation where some Indians end up being ambassadors of western cultural narratives in India.

As for specifics:
1. Don't do anything: I know, this sounds funny, but think of it, if the govt were actively promoting soft power, no one would take it up. Imagine GoI building a theatre for screening Indian films in SL - will anyone come to watch it voluntarily? China tries to project some 'soft' power, but their cupboard is bare. At least, I think it is bare since that cupboard is owned by their govt. so I don't have a good opinion about it. So, in summary, the govt. shouldn't be involved here in any way.
2. Promote Indian companies to go abroad: This is the easy part. A TVS selling motorbikes/autos in Indonesia or Tata selling cars in South Africa will be a good way to get awareness of Indian stuff outside India. All GoI has to do here is to set some frameworks for these companies when they step outside: provide good service, engage with local populace, etc. Nothing obviously sarkari. If these companies build theatres or art galleries abroad, that's their prerogative.
3. (Sort of an addendum to point 2) Enable media houses to expand outside India, but within firm Indian ownership. Not an appealing thought given the current state of our media, but can be done if needed. For example, BBC has so much mindshare in India, without the UK govt. really doing anything to promote. There needs to be an Indian voice on everything, and here, our wide usage of English is useful. Apart from news, other channels need to broadcast abroad, even if they produce only soap operas. It doesn't matter. For example, Brazil has/had a popular soap about some desi family or something like that. It was locally produced, so wasn't probably accurate, but it did have some curiosity value. Use such things. An unknown fact is that lives of people in South America are not that different from ours, no harm in reaching out.
4. India festivals abroad: This is the only place where govt. can have an active role: Have yearly India festivals in various countries. Showcase our food, arts, dance, etc. We have enough depth of art that this list will never run out. But make sure they are well organised and polished, none of the usual tardiness should do - people running about at the last minute, basic things missing, etc. Hire professionals to actually hold these events. Also, we can consider having something on the lines of USIS, British Council, Alliance Francaise, etc. that screen desi movies, hold art exhibitions etc.
5. Cultivate alternate friendships: our obsession with the English speaking west has not resulted in anything good. I am not saying we should abandon English, but we should start building alternative narratives in English, and also translate into other languages. Again, we don't know any Spanish, though it is spoken by around 400M speakers world wide, especially in South America. more importantly, there is not much cultural baggage about India in these areas unlike UK/US/Europe. Why not engage with folks here? Apparently, India is viewed somewhat positively in these parts, given our stand on things like pharma, which benefit these countries (and African nations) as well. As a start, apart from some of the above points, have a special outreach to these countries for tourism. Deploy Spanish speaking guides at some major tourist spots, and promote those areas as destinations in these countries. The more adventurous can go to areas even when there are no Spanish speaking guides, but focus on getting a few locations right.
6. While I advocate using Spanish, we need not abandon English completely. There are English speakers outside of the so-called west: Africa. Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia all use English to some extent. Given their populations, these countries will be growth centres in Africa. Given that Indians have lived in these parts for a long time, we should engage actively here too. Maybe we are, but we don't hear much about it.
7. Closer to home: Do nothing. Geographical proximity ensures commonality languages across borders: Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi, etc. Just ensure we trade and allow people-people contacts without hindrance. And here, I don't mean the track 2 chai-biskoot that happens with a certain antagonistic neighbour, but all other neighbours visiting places of worship in India, shopping, etc. The current SAARC outreach is a good effort in this vein.
8. Hard power: Of course, all of the above are worthless if we don't build up our hard power, as rightly pointed out by shiv-ji and Tuvaluan-ji. We need to ensure the Indian subcontinent is inviolate from outside influence. Easier said than done, but there are a few things we could do. Build up the Navy into a potent and omniscient force. The IOR is our ocean and we should keep it that way. Make-in-India for increasing amounts of weaponry - we cannot rely on imports and be susceptible to sanctions, for then we won't be able to pursue our interests independently.

All of the above need a concerted approach from the top, since they involve a lot of govt departments working in synch. And it also requires a steady course across govt changes, something that is not feasible given our current polity. Let's see how much we can achieve. JM2p.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 08 Mar 2015 23:52

Arshyam-ji, I think less government involvement is necessary to create soft power, and I competely agree with your points India must "just let things happen" to create soft power. Ilayaraja was empowered to make and sell his music to an audience to create soft power to India's benefit, so the lesson here is to economically and otherwise empower citizens to be creative, and for a start the constitutional support for bigots who oppose anything that "hurts their feelings" needs to go. Good art and culture cannot be chained by a bunch of regressive morons whose only reason to exist it to rabblerouse for political benefit, usually seeking softer targets like artists and people who are creative. The govt. should provide the environmen that will unleash more of this creativity rather than create some system moulded and run by the government -- that has never worked anywhere else before, across cultural boundaries. And all successful examples, including the USA, only manage it because they create a huge volume of movies and music and art that even if a small fraction of this is effective, it makes a positive impression to the US's benefit.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 09 Mar 2015 03:29

First of all, thanks to Arshyam, Tuvaluan and Harbans for your contribution to this thread. To tell you the truth, I am still researching on this topic and shall post time to time and raise questions and tips. The reason I posted the CNN article was just a research strategy, deception and finally the action!!!

LOL…just kidding!

For the record, I wanted to know what India’s role and policy towards Obama’s Asia-Pivot strategy is. And I’m still browsing and reading through this forum’s other topics and threads. Lots of posts and reading I must say, thanks to all the members! Also I am like an old owl, the more I saw the less I spoke and the less I spoke the more I heard/read!

Wondering where to start though; I do agree with what you guys are saying but please don’t turn the topic in a different direction as it's just a question of how to combat terrorism via soft power.

Thus, we have to start with life-span theories such as attachment theories, internalizing, child abuse, poverty, oppression, discrimination and so on because we have to first find out what makes a man terrorist? Looking at the research that has already been done on Pirabhakaran, bin Laden, and now on al-Baghdadi; I came to a hypothesis that “Terrorism springs from the very soul of a grieved man”. I know that some of you will disagree with me for many reasons. But what I read about each one of them made me to come to this conclusion. We know that bin Laden was armed, funded and trained by Americans and Pirabhakaran was by India for some extent. And then they both became monsters against their own masters. We still don’t know who trained Baghdadi. May be Russia? USA? Israel? Syria? We don’t know yet. We heard last week that Jihadi ‘John’ from UK was harassed and interrogated by MI5 before he joined ISIS. As I said before, there is no absolute truth to search for and everything is subjective.

Secondly, I also agree with you guys that soft power should not be induced or intervened by governments even though foreign policy and diplomacy are part and parcel of soft power where governments make decisions. However what we have to build on is the civil society! A nations’ civil society and its institutions starting from a family to non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests from the will of citizens. The best part of a civil society is that one common man or any individual, who are independent of the government, can make a difference, i.e. Ilaiyaraja or AR Rahman or if I go further, Sachin Tendulkar or Mahendra Singh Dhoni; hope you get my point.

Finally, when the government try to intervene in civil society affairs, there comes a problem. For instance the bilateral cricketing ties between Pakistan and India were snapped following the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. Such is a negative showcase of soft power IMHO.
Last edited by Tuan on 09 Mar 2015 07:09, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby shiv » 09 Mar 2015 06:48

Tuan wrote:what makes a man terrorist? Looking at the research that has already been done on Pirabhakaran, bin Laden, and now on al-Baghdadi; I came to a hypothesis that “Terrorism springs from very soul of a grieved man”.

How about, "religion springs from the very soul of a grieved man". When terrorism springs from religion it is more difficult to combat using soft power than when the terrorist is a secular terrorist like Prabhakaran

That is because religion has, for many centuries, positioned itself as the fountain of soft, gentle power.

It is the epitome of blindness (and pseudosecularism in India) to pretend that Prabhakaran and Hafiiz Saeed are the same. Or even Prabhakaran and al Baghdadi. Prabhakaran did not represent a religion. Too many people - especially western anaylsts have fudged this important fact and you seem to have filled yourself with the western view as you write given your insatiable interest in al Baghdadi as opposed to what is a clear and present danger for India. Also you spell Prabhakaran as Pirabhakaran which is done by only a small subset of people. You do not need to be Indian on this forum but it helps to keep Indian interests in mind.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 09 Mar 2015 07:57

shiv wrote:You do not need to be Indian on this forum but it helps to keep Indian interests in mind.


Shiv Ji – seems like you are offended by some of my comments.

Duly noted! But it’d be helpful if you could please point out what I said against Indian interests though…..

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby shiv » 09 Mar 2015 08:15

Tuan wrote:
shiv wrote:You do not need to be Indian on this forum but it helps to keep Indian interests in mind.


Shiv Ji – seems like you are offended by some of my comments.

Duly noted! But it’d be helpful if you could please point out what I said against Indian interests though…..

al Baghdadi and ISIS are of lesser consequence to India than the Pakistani army and Lashkar e Toiba.

The specific brand of terrorism that India has faced (as the predominant issue) is Religion sponsored terrorism - specifically terrorists who use Islam as the reason for killing Indians. Prabhakaran's main target was Sri Lanka, not India. al Baghdadis target is not India.

Your topics are good for academic interest but suffer from two issues
1. They do not discuss Indian interests
and more importantly
2. Anyone who speaks of terrorism as a consequence of some mental disease or economic disability is either living on cloud cuckoo land or is motivated by the need to sideline religion as a fundamental sponsor of terrorist acts, and people who live in the west and get their information from the west have always seen anti-India terrorism as "freedom fighters" and anti-west violence as "terrorism".

If anything that you say suggests that you are heading down the paths that I have indicated above, I and others will undoubtedly come down heavily. By all means use this forum to learn - but "innocence" or protestations of innocence and lack of awareness of Indian interests are not good enough reasons to survive unscathed. Innocence is the first defence of trolls.

American issues, Sri Lankan Issues and West Asian issues shall be discussed only insofar as Indian interests are highlighted and kept in mind. If that is called "being biased" that should not surprise anyone. If you are unaware of Indian interests you will soon find out.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 09 Mar 2015 08:41

Shiv Ji - I hear you.

Just so you know, I'm focused on global terrorism, you're right. I understand that BRF is Indian forum but it also accommodates global issues to a certain extent as I see here.

Anyways, if you're speaking on behalf of BRF admin let me know I shall withdraw from here.

Thanks.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby shiv » 09 Mar 2015 08:48

Tuan wrote:Shiv Ji - I hear you.

Just so you know, I'm focused on global terrorism, you're right. I understand that BRF is Indian forum but it also accommodates global issues to a certain extent as I see here.

Anyways, if you're speaking on behalf of BRF admin let me know I shall withdraw from here.

Thanks.

I speak on behalf of myself - I have always done that, admin or no admin. Your withdrawal is your choice but if anything you say sounds like the crap Indians have heard from the west about terrorism for decades - you will be called out. You are not the first person on this forum to speak in under-informed generalities about terrorism or talk about "global terrorism" - an idea that conveniently sidesteps most of the factors that are responsible for terrorism in India. In fact with "global terrorism" being the issue, Pakistan is an innocent victim. We have heard this kind of worthless blather on here too many times, often from western sources, echoed by Pakis. There are only two motivating factors
1. Ignorance (which will need correction)
2. Malice (which is usually apologetically passed off as ignorance)

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Vikas » 09 Mar 2015 15:41

“Don’t use cannon to kill a mosquito….” - Confucius

What if what you are fighting against is a Grizzly beast who is intent on killing you. Not every enemy or idea is a mosquito. Sometimes it is a Kraken with multiple heads and center of power.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby harbans » 09 Mar 2015 20:26

Soft power is not just some media, films or songs. Its much more. Whatever Bolly/Holly/Tollywood produces, whatever the genre of music there is something larger about the society that creates those moments. Not every society can create awesome music over generations like what possibly only India and the US have for example. The society that produces that has certain underlying tenets/ qualities/ values that give rise to creative freedoms. The prime motivator behind thus what we refer to as the superficial soft power is thus something far deeper. China doesn't have that, nor Japan, nor ME, nor Russia for some reason. India does. Look at Asia, it has more Indic influence than Chinese culturally and religious. Our conflict with totalitarian/ fascism military or religious comes because of that something deeper behind our superficial soft power. The ground for usage of Hard Power also arises because that something deeper is being hit. So that something deeper is the prime mover of both our soft power and also the progenitor of our use of hard power options. We need to define that 'something deeper' better, so as to both channelize our soft power options and draw lines where we use our hard power ones.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 09 Mar 2015 20:53

harbans wrote:Soft power is not just some media, films or songs. Its much more.


It is generally about arts and culture and its influence beyond borders, religion is also soft power, probably even more effective than media, films, or songs. It is basically non military means of influence.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 10 Mar 2015 06:21

Tuvaluan wrote:
harbans wrote:Soft power is not just some media, films or songs. Its much more.


It is generally about arts and culture and its influence beyond borders, religion is also soft power, probably even more effective than media, films, or songs. It is basically non military means of influence.


I have to go with harbans on this.

A country's soft power, according to Nye, rests on three resources: "its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when others see them as legitimate and having moral authority)."

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 10 Mar 2015 06:56

Tuan wrote:A country's soft power, according to Nye, rests on three resources: "its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when others see them as legitimate and having moral authority)."


Tuan, Harbans is yet to define what the thinks soft power is -- he said "it is something larger". Also, Nye basically defines "soft power" as positive soft power and give some three arbitrary categories, so that his theory nicely fits his definition -- that is utterly bogus, and it is pretty silly to pretend that we must ignore any other possibilities to this concept of "soft power", unless you are of the opinion that you have to be professor in an american university to come up with self-serving definitions. Why only three resources, and no more? because Nye says so? please.

This is similar to question asked by Prof. Srinivasan in the Indian edition of Feynman Lectures to Physics: "Name five uses for nuclear power" and then provides 5 answers followed by "that's it and no more?". Just because Nye mentions three characteristics of his opinion of soft power, it does not mean those three are right or that there are only 3 such possibilities.

"its culture (in places where it is attractive to others),


Religion can be considered part of culture, if you disagree, please explain why.

its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad),

Really. So the US practices democracy at home and supports dictators abroad. So is hypocrisy a soft power? or is is more likely that this is just utter horses***?

and its foreign policies (when others see them as legitimate and having moral authority)."


Same story. Using hard power and using soft power to cloak the actions taken under hard power is what the US does, so what exactly is this cr@p Nye is preaching to the planet here?

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 10 Mar 2015 10:03

VikasRaina wrote:“Don’t use cannon to kill a mosquito….” - Confucius

What if what you are fighting against is a Grizzly beast who is intent on killing you. Not every enemy or idea is a mosquito. Sometimes it is a Kraken with multiple heads and center of power.


VikasRaina Ji - it doesn't really matter whether your enemy is a Grizzly beast or Kraken with multiple heads, all you need to do is show them who you are and what you stand for as Indians, your religious values, cultural values, moral and ethical values, as a society and nation. As Harman pointed out, you have a responsibility to craft a winning narrative. When you fail to step up and define yourself, the enemy will be happy to do it for you.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby shiv » 10 Mar 2015 17:53

harbans wrote:Soft power is not just some media, films or songs. Its much more. Whatever Bolly/Holly/Tollywood produces, whatever the genre of music there is something larger about the society that creates those moments.

harbans that is an astute and critical observation, but I do think this topic will not go further until a few basic variables are defined.

Who exerts soft power? A nation state? Or a society?

Could a government control information output sufficiently to give the impression of a nation or society exuding soft power, hiding the warts?

Could a society that is intrinsically civilized and happy be unable to project its soft power because of a sustained ideological assault from another society or nation that uses hard power and propaganda as above to smear and diss that society so that it appears weak and uncivilized - which is what happened to India

Ultimately the use of soft power or hard power is akin to the difference between rule of law and an ethical society. Ethics are moral and behavioural guidelines that are not imposed. They are fostered and encouraged from bottom up. Laws are imposed from top down. Laws entail punishment. If soft power is about the behaviour of a society, that behaviour can be generated by an ethical society built from bottom up or by trying to impose behaviour from top-down.

As far as India is concerned I think we have to regain the soft power we had - power that has been criticized and dissed by everyone including Indians.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuan » 20 Mar 2015 22:30

shiv wrote:Who exerts soft power? A nation state? Or a society?


Shiv Ji - I believe soft power is part and parcel of both a nation state and its civil society and it can be wielded by both institutions.

shiv wrote:Could a society that is intrinsically civilized and happy be unable to project its soft power because of a sustained ideological assault from another society or nation that uses hard power and propaganda as above to smear and diss that society so that it appears weak and uncivilized - which is what happened to India


I respectfully have to disagree with this statement because much of the globe sees India as a relatively non-violent, tolerant and pluralistic democracy with a benign international influence. Its values are seen as largely positive.

Below are two examples of how India showcases its soft power in the global arena. (even though it has nothing to do with countering terrorism)

India’s Soft Power Advantage
http://thediplomat.com/2014/09/indias-s ... advantage/

During Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to India, he was asked to justify Australia’s signing of a deal to sell uranium to the country. In response, the prime minister said, “India threatens no one” and “is the friend to many.” This was no mere diplomatic nicety, but a carefully chosen answer based on India’s international image. It is an image that is rare amongst great powers of India’s size and strength, and will give Delhi a unique soft power advantage in the future multipolar world.

India’s reputation extends beyond its nuclear posture. Since independence, the country has been viewed as a neutral and harmless power by most foreign audiences, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia. This is in part due to its prominent role in the Non-Aligned movement. Whilst Delhi’s reputation in its own neighborhood is quite different, South Asian states do not see India as a threat in the way that many of Russia or China’s neighbors view those powers. Even long-time nemesis Pakistan is unlikely to have been as adventurous in its dealings with its much larger and more powerful neighbor had it not had firsthand experience of Delhi’s restraint – even before Islamabad had nuclear capability.


India’s Central Asia Soft Power
http://thediplomat.com/2011/09/indias-c ... oft-power/

After its ambitious plans for an air base in Tajikistan were thwarted, India appears to be reorienting its military strategy in Central Asia toward a more modest, soft power approach.

India may not have got the airbase it planned in Tajikistan. But hospital and research initiatives offer a chance of influence – without upsetting Russia.

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Re: Combating Terrorism Using Soft Power

Postby Tuvaluan » 20 Mar 2015 22:47

Tuan wrote: I believe soft power is part and parcel of both a nation state and its civil society and it can be wielded by both institutions.


Tuan, I can see the nation state is represented by the govt. of the day, but "civil society" in India is just a term for some ignorant rabble rousers who arrogate more influence to themselves than they actually have. There is no institution to represent "civil society", though the NAC and other marxist/socialist groups anointed themselves as "civil society" during the UPA's regime, and wielded a lot of power through Sonia Gandhi and her minions. Perhaps you could share what is the " institution of civil society" you refer to in the above quote?

Tuan wrote:Below are two examples of how India showcases its soft power in the global arena.
..
. Even long-time nemesis Pakistan is unlikely to have been as adventurous in its dealings with its much larger and more powerful neighbor had it not had firsthand experience of Delhi’s restraint – even before Islamabad had nuclear capability.


How is the first example one that supports your case? Basically, Pakistan acquired nuclear power and became mortal danger to India due to India's restraint/inaction, which you seem to term as "soft power". How is military restraint, i.e., absence of "hard power", the same as "soft power"? That usage of "Soft power" seems incorrect.


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