On the Rise: America’s Military Soft Power

America has caught people’s attention by recently taking a series of actions: First, Obama has nominated CIA Director Leon Panetta to be the next Secertary of Defense; second, U.S. special forces have killed bin Laden in a successful raid, putting the 10-year-long death pursuit to an end; third, America has published International Strategy for Cyberspace. At first glance, these things appear to be irrelavant, but in fact, they are all part of America’s plan to strive for dominance in terms of soft power.

With new technology becoming more and more a part of social life, the competition of soft power, especially military soft power, is getting ever more severe. Cyber war, psychological war and public opinion war have already become new areas for military competition. In these new fields, a new challenge lying in front of America is how to take the upper hand and seize the dominant power. For example, in cyberspace, America has been constantly attacked by hackers, resulting in frequent damage to America’s national defense. The competition of military soft power will be one of the focuses of the American government; it’ll also be Panetta’s core job after he’s assumed office. It can be speculated that Panetta will take active measures to boost America’s military soft power.

Panetta, who used to be a secret agent, has what it takes to help America promote its military soft power. The competition of soft power, especially military soft power, needs the support of intelligence. America cleverly saw this point, so it has closely combined intelligence and national defense. The present Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was a good example. He worked in the American intelligence community for many years, and he has made great efforts to boost America’s military soft power after taking office. As the general director of the intelligence community in America, Panetta knows very well about the competition in the field of soft power in and outside America, and he’s deeply aware of what kind of resources he has at his disposal.

More and more countries are starting to work on increasing their soft power. The Bosnian War, Kosovo War, and Russia-Georgia War all show that soft power-based competition is very fierce, especially when it comes to cyber war. The United Kingdom, after publishing the first National Cyber Security Strategy in June 2009, has become the first country in the world to draw up regulations on cyber security. UK government officials said that Britain has set up two divisions for cyber security, namely the Office of Cyber Security and Cyber Security Operations Center; Britain is now capable of participating in cyber wars. Other countries are taking measures to defend their cyber security as well. South Korea has founded cyber headquarters in 2010 to centralize power and boost its capability in cyber wars; America launched the plan of setting up cyber headquarters in May 2010, and in October, the division was put into use. America’s newly founded division is a real unit to protect America’s cyber security efficiently and to carry out cyber attacks worldwide.

With America putting more and more effort into advancing its soft power, the pressure on China’s shoulder is getting heavier and heavier. We can see this clearly in three aspects. First, since America is leading the game in the international competition, more and better rules are being drawn up, and space for China’s activity is becoming smaller and smaller accordingly. Second, after publishing International Strategy for Cyberspace, America has made it clear that it’s aiming for the hegemony in the cyberspace, and this has undoubtedly put China, the biggest developing country, under the influence of rules made by America in its future development. Third, China is still not strong enough in many fundamental aspects of advancing its soft power; a big gap between America and China in terms of their ability to use soft power will continue to exist.

Global Times, China

By Han Xudong

Translated By Qu Xiao

27 May 2011

Edited by Gillian Palmer
China – Global Times – Original Article (Chinese)

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