Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trump and Soft Power in Latin America

Andrés Oppenheimer brings up a useful point about the Trump administration and Latin America. When floods hit Peru, countries from around Latin America (including Venezuela, which can ill afford it) responded.

The presidents of Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama, among others, had either called Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski or announced humanitarian aid to Peru, the report said. But there was no mention of the United States. 
When I called a senior aide to Kuczynski to ask him whether the United States had been accidentally left out of the news report, he said there was still no official statement from Washington, nor an announcement of U.S. aid.

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This is all about soft power. In the article I recently published on the Obama Doctrine and Cuba, soft power was an important component. When you ditch soft power, you lose leverage. If you slice up the State Department and other government agencies, it's harder to respond effectively to crises. Trump is moving in a direction of almost exclusive use of hard power, with threats and bluster leading the way. That will not achieve U.S. policy goals in Latin America, though I suppose we don't have a firm grip of what the administration's policy goals in the region actually are.


Anonymous,  1:57 PM  

The abandonment of soft power is evident in targeted cuts including outside State. The hiring freeze and failure to name appointees for State Department further hampers the already poor capacity (compared to other countries) in a major area of recent advances, cultural heritage and exchanges, where our lack of a culture ministry has us playing global catch up. The cost of these soft power programs is modest and the payoff wildly disproportionate.

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