The concept of soft power has caught the attention of policymakers, scholars, and political pundits for the last thirty years. Soft power studies most often focus on measures of public opinion toward a power-wielder and draw conclusions about a state’s level of soft power from that opinion. This research examines soft power influence by focusing on the elite discourse and the foreign policy decisions of states that are the target of soft power influence. Beginning with Joseph Nye’s conception that soft power is an attractive force that influences state policy decisions and its level of support for another state’s policies, Confronting the Myth of Soft Power in U.S. Foreign Policy examines whether U.S. soft power was part of key policymakers’ decision calculus. Soft power is tested against two plausible alternate explanations—balancing and state identity. Data from the discourse of key foreign policymakers in France and Germany indicate that U.S. soft power does not account for those states’ policy decisions to support U.S.-led policy interventions in Kosovo in 1999, or against ISIS in 2014. The results of this research are suggestive regarding the potential of soft power influence and its implications on scholarship and U.S. foreign policymaking.
Dr. Brent A. Lawniczak is assistant professor of military and security studies at the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College.
Chapter 1: Testing Soft Power
Chapter 2: Alternate Explanations and Case Selection
Chapter 3: France’s Decision to Participate in the Military Intervention in Kosovo
Chapter 4: Germany’s Decision to Participate in the Military Intervention in Kosovo
Chapter 5: France’s Decision to Participate in the Military Intervention Against ISIS
Chapter 6: Germany’s Decision to Participate in the Military Intervention Against ISIS