Posted: March 24th, 2023

American Universities, Soft Power, and Foreign Policy


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American universities are some of the greatest institutions of higher learning in the world. Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a universally recognized institution. Harvard is a private higher learning institution founded in 1636 and utilizes a semester-based educational almanac. Princeton University is another great University that was established in 1746 which is located in Princeton, New Jersey. Chicago University, located in Chicago’s Hyde Park, is another paramount organization that was founded in 1890. Other prestigious universities in the United States include Yale University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Duke University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among other institutions.

One of the reasons the United States has become so dominant in higher education is the fact that it has a better research and teaching system than any other country in the world. In fact, the institutions draw the finest scholars from all over the globe to perform their research and teaching in America. Another reason for this dominance is the fact that it is an English-speaking country. English language is so valuable for expressing information and ideas in our contemporary world. The best students and researchers in almost all parts of the world are conversant with the English language but may not know other dialects, such as French or Chinese. For this reason, universities from English-speaking countries such as the U.S. attract numerous individuals from all occupations. As a result, this networking enhances the status of American Universities, giving them the prestige and quality to rise.

There is a possibility that the U. S. dominance in higher education might change soon. This is due to the mounting competition for international students in higher education. Currently, nations like China, Brazil, Taiwan, Russia, Argentina, and Thailand, as well as South Korea, who sent their students abroad for higher education, have enacted initiatives and strategies aimed at enhancing their rates of recruiting international students. In fact, some are even putting a greater share of GDP into academic teaching and research than the United States, a factor that can make America lose track of dominance in the near future. Moreover, the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, seems to have created a disruption in the U.S. academic competitiveness through the immigration orders that are causing uproar and disruption at the American universities. In fact, this interruption is enough to make an individual wonder whether it might risk the United States’ educational dominance.          


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Power in the international relations is defined in various ways, including hard power and soft power. Hard power is a term that refers to the application of a coercive approach to foreign policy. Indeed, it involves using economic and military power to control or influence the interests and behaviors of other nations. This type of political power is effective in situations where one political body imposes it on another that is of a lesser economic and military power. In other words, a political body with military and economic ability might influence the nation with lesser military and economic capacities. In such situations, the strong political body exerts influence or control through offering military security and reducing trade barriers among other expedient offers termed as ‘carrots.’ Similarly, threats such as use of coercion, imposing economic sanctions, and trade restraints may also be applied.

Hard power is moderately significant in the U.S. foreign policy. This is reflected on capacity to use its profuse pool of resources. An excellent example of instances where the United Sates has used hard power is during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition, U.S also imposed trade embargo on countries, including Iraq, Cuba, and Iran, which manifests the use of economic power to achieve control.

Soft power is a more subtle type of influence as compared to hard power. It is a form of authority characterized by a persuasive approach to foreign policy and involves a political body’s historical, diplomatic, and cultural influence. Soft power has the aptitude to appeal to and co-opt other political bodies rather than use force, coerce, or offer military support and fiscal gifts to gain influence. This form of power is not based on the application of coercion with the aim of gaining control. Instead, it utilizes various indirect tactics to convince other states to desire their visions and missions. Countries, as well as other non-state actors such as international bureaucracies, apply soft power when presenting their preferences, which results in other nations matching their preferences. It is worth noting that soft power is founded upon three basic resources, including using culture in situations where it appears appealing to others, foreign policy in instances where other nations see them as having moral control, legitimacy, and political values.

The use of soft power is substantial in America, with Marshall Plan being one of the examples of soft power that was developed to prevent Europe from falling into the control of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. In addition, educational exchange plans, including the 100,000 strong Chinese initiatives being, an example of soft power application.   


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