Soft Power, Public Diplomacy and Just War

Authored by: Michael L. Gross

Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415539340
eBook ISBN: 9780203107164
Adobe ISBN: 9781136261008


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While discerning observers note the growing significance of soft power in contemporary armed conflict, just war theory and, indeed, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Laws Of Armed Conflict (LOAC) are conspicuously silent and offer little normative guidance for using soft power legally and ethically. Soft power encompasses the means to obtain a political goal through attraction and persuasion rather than through threats or coercion. 1 Advocates embrace public diplomacy, economic development and public works abroad to co-opt and attract an adversary to its side. Hard power, on the other hand, is the traditional stuff of just war theory and international humanitarian law as adversaries employ, in the best case, the least destructive means necessary to disable an enemy, compel compliance and secure the political goals they seek. Accompanied by death, devastation and disease, the moral complexities of exercising hard power speak for themselves. Accompanied by publicity campaigns, humanitarian aid and ringing cultural events, the exercise of soft power seems worry free.

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