Soft Power and the Case of Iraq

Bose, Purnima; Lyons, Laura E.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2015
Year Published:  2015  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20950

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, pundits have touted the desirability of pursuing "soft power" as a supplement to military action in Iraq and other parts of the Muslim world.



Soft power operates partly through what is called "public diplomacy" by projecting what are deemed "American values" abroad through media channels, cultural exports, and the creation of institutional exchanges with other countries.

In relation to Iraq, educational initiatives occupy a prominent place in the policy discourse of soft power and public diplomacy in the highly visible creation of programs for Iraqi scholars to study abroad.

While Iraqi government officials couch such initiatives as a form of intellectual reconstruction in which Iraqi scholars will gain the expertise abroad necessary to rebuild the educational infrastructure at home, American university officials unabashedly invoke the language of diplomacy to describe these programs and to claim that exposure to university culture will inculcate Iraqi scholars with American ideals and ultimately contribute to the spread of democracy in Iraq.

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