Russia’s Soft Power Development in the 21st Century

Russia’s Soft Power Development in the 21st Century

Ryan Bauer

In a speech earlier this year at the Russian Academy of Military Science, Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, discussed the changing environment of modern warfare. Noting the rise of hybrid conflicts such as color revolutions, General Gerasimov highlighted the importance of, “leading military theorists and specialists as well as the defense industry and the government to jointly develop a “soft power” strategy to counter the potential threat from ‘color revolutions.’” The importance of this speech is two-fold. First, it demonstrates that while some have come to believe that Russia has developed a unique and profound soft power strategy, this is not the case. Second, this speech may indicate a trend towards a greater reliance on the use of soft power, though its use is framed as a defensive measure. Rather than using soft power to project values and appear more attractive as countries such as the United States attempts to do, this speech highlights the importance of countering foreign efforts directed against the Russian Federation. Though Russia traditionally relies on hard power to ensure state security and project power, the country may begin a revitalized effort of utilizing soft power to help achieve this, an effort not seen since the Cold War era.

During the Cold War, there were two major battles for power occurring. The most notable was a battle of hard power, comprised of conventional forces and rising nuclear forces between the United States and the Soviet Union. The other was a competition of soft power, including the battle for ideology, norms and influence between liberal and communist values. In the post-Cold War era, the West has sought to further expand its norms and influence throughout the international system through a variety of measures including soft power. Examples of these soft power elements range from liberal ideals such as freedom of press and speech to Western culture. These ideals and norms are spread in effect through Western media, the entertainment industry and U.S. foreign policy, to name a few. The United States is not alone in these efforts. To a certain extent Russia has also sought to further expand its ideology and influence outside of its borders through the use of soft power. Examples of these efforts include organizations like the Russian World Foundation and Rossotrudnichestvo, which promote Russian language and culture abroad and media efforts like Russia Today (RT), which according to the website, broadcasts in over 100 countries. But over the past few years, the discussion of soft power has notably increased.

One reason for the increased discussion around soft power, as Russia argues, is the decline of Western norms and influence globally. As Putin noted in his 2007 Munich speech, “the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations.” As the appeal of American values decreases, which is true to some extent, its ability to conduct soft power decreases as a result. Another reason for the heightened discussion is the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s actions as a result. Since 2014, there has been an increased shift in Russia’s efforts to create an alternative message to Western norms and practices. Russia’s ability to produce these messages at a rapid rate in comparison to the United States has led some to believe that Russia has begun to develop a unique and profound soft power strategy.

Though Russia has been successful in comparison to the U.S. with quickly creating and dispensing alternative messaging, this is not the result of a developed soft power strategy. One reason for this is the goal in which this messaging seeks to produce. Rather than creating a constructive and appealing image of Russia abroad, these efforts are largely concerned with creating a division and alternative to the West. Through manipulative information influencing such as highlighting policy disputes in the European Union and disinformation practices focused on discrediting American organizations, Russia is attempting to defend its values by discrediting and dividing Western values. With soft power resources going towards these efforts, there has been a decline in leveraging resources to promote Russian appeal abroad. According to Jan Vaslavsky, director of the analytical center Rethinking Russia, the country is not fully leveraging its soft-power capabilities. As such, these actions demonstrate only a short-term policy instead of a long-term soft power strategy for Russia. Attributing less effort to promoting Russia’s image and values, “Russian strategists fail to appreciate that most American and European global soft power comes from the West’s capacity to forge productive partnerships and create new opportunities.”

Another reason is the lack of adaption in Russia to the modern era. As the concept of power has evolved over time, so has the conception of effective soft power. As author Bobo Lo notes in his recent book, Russian and the New World Disorder, “Economic strength and technological capacity underpin the growing ascendancy of soft power. The most influential powers in today’s world are those whose strengths lie principally in this area.”[i] The ability to project power and influence is incumbent in developing these realms. In today’s Russia however, the country is currently dealing with a severely weakened economy, massive currency inflation, a flight of foreign investment and a lacking innovative society for technological development. In order for Russia to develop a compatible soft power strategy as General Gerasimov has called for, the country will have to further develop and modernize these areas. The lack of a suitable soft power capability has only been exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine.

Effectively transforming a pro-Russian Ukraine into an anti-Russian state, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have further diminished Russia’s image not only in the West but also in its near abroad. Even countries such as Belarus, which has served as one of Russia’s few supporters over the past two decades, is looking to better balance itself between the East and the West.[ii] As with many of Russia’s neighbors, “Russia’s aggression has alarmed Lukashenko, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, [whom] doesn’t want to become a second Viktor Yanukovych.” Many of Russia’s neighbors are alarmed by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, because they view this action as an indicator of Russia’s stance against their countries’ independence and sovereignty. However, the call for the creation of a soft power strategy may seek to decrease these suspicions and improve Russia’s relations with its near abroad.

As stated previously, Russia traditionally relies on hard power, such as a large military, to maintain its security and project power and influence. This tends to be the case both in its backyard as the situation in Ukraine has demonstrated, as well as globally with its military efforts in Syria. In light of the recent speech by General Gerasimov and the support it received at the Russian Academy of Military Science, Russia may develop a soft power strategy that addresses some of the identified deficiencies. With Russia’s image and partnerships damaged globally, an effective soft power strategy may be an increasingly beneficial tool for Putin and the federal government. But as with the current soft power policy, it is important to understand its intended goals. In discussing the need for a soft power strategy, General Gerasimov highlighted its importance in the context countering threats against Russia, noting that, “Since ‘color revolutions,’ [which] the Ministry of Defense in fact deems state coups, are one form of hybrid warfare, responding to them using conventional troops is impossible.” It would appear that the underlying goal is not to improve Russia’s appeal or relations abroad but to improve its ability to defend against modern conflicts such as color revolutions. Though the ends may be the same, highlighting the need to integrate, “diplomatic and other nonmilitary methods of interaction with other states,” it is interesting to see how in the case of Russia, the government is framing soft power in the context of a defensive tool. Still too early to tell, it will be fascinating to see whether Russia’s soft power strategy operates similar to the West or if it acts as a defensive tool against what Russia deems as exterior threats.

Though only one of a variety of tools available to a state, soft power can be an effective means for advancing the values and influence of a country. As the image and appeal of Russia has diminished not only in the West but also in its near abroad, calls for a soft power strategy could prove to be a beneficial move for the Russian Federation. The ends, ways and means in which this policy will play out however, remains to be seen.

End Notes

[i] Bobo Lo, Russia and the New World Disorder (Washington: Brookings, 2015), 56-57.

[ii] Ibid., 115

 

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Regarding the very unusual and very unique features/attributes/histories/cultures, etc., of individual states and their societies, the question would seem to be: Are these very unusual/very unique/very individual features, attributes, histories, etc., best utilized in:

a. A defensive/resisting transformation (of oneself and one's friends) role? Or in:

b. An offensive/achieving the transformation (of the entire Rest of the World) role?

This question possibly stated another way: Is the fact of substantial state and societal individuality and "difference" best used as a weapon to:

a. PREVENT unwanted -- foreign nation-sponsored and/or supported -- state and societal change? Or, best used as a weapon to:

b. ACHIEVE -- by a foreign intervening power -- the fundamental and complete state and societal transformation of vast numbers of other states and societies?

In the Old Cold War of yesterday, when the Soviets/the communists were on an "expansionist" bent, they seemed to think that options "b" above best suited their purposes. Thus, they applied their "soft power" accordingly. While the U.S./the West, back then, being in a "containment"/"roll back" mode, appeared to adopt the options "a" above "soft power" perspective/approach.

In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, however, with the U.S./the West now being the one having the "expansionist" role, we seem to believe that options "b" above best serve our needs currently. (Thus, we have applied our "soft power" accordingly.) This, while such nations as Russia, China and Iran -- now being in a "containment"/"roll back" mode -- appear to be applying their "soft power" from the options "a" above approach/perspective.

Q: In the context of a "Cold War" -- and from the standpoint of those states and societies resisting unwanted transformation and incorporation by a foreign intervening power -- what are some of the advantages to be derived from having, vis-a-vis the expansionist/on-offense foreign intervening powers, (a) such very different-from-them political, economic and social make-ups and (b) such very different different-from-them values, attitudes, beliefs, cultures, histories, etc.?

A: For one, these such exceptional differences suggest that the foreign intervening power/enemy will have a very difficult time, indeed, (1) convincing these "other" populations that they should so fundamentally "change" and/or (2) achieving such fundamental "change" even if these populations somehow agree to such a transition. For another, the fact that there are so many states and societies (to wit: the entire Rest of the World?) possessing (in one form or another) such amazing differences vis-a-via their "expansionist" enemy; this suggests that these such many and different folks have (a) not only common "resistance" cause but, indeed, (b) common and combined ("soft?") resistance power.

(It was, after all, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, the Soviets/the communists against the entire Rest of the World. And is, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, the U.S./the West now against this same entity?)

Let us consider, now and therefore, that it is against this amazing juggernaut of differences/difficulties/ histories/cultures, etc. -- presented by the many and varied states and societies that make up the entire Rest of the World -- that the foreign intervening power, seeking to transform and incorporate all the outlying state and societies of the world, comes to throw its own uniqueness/its own individuality/its own so-called "soft power" against.

Herein, hoping that in doing so -- and specifically re: its transforming and incorporating the entire Rest of the World mission/cause -- it does not do itself more harm that good.

A quote from our article above:

BEGIN QUOTE

But as with the current soft power policy, it is important to understand its intended goals. In discussing the need for a soft power strategy, General Gerasimov highlighted its importance in the context countering threats against Russia, noting that, “Since ‘color revolutions,’ [which] the Ministry of Defense in fact deems state coups, are one form of hybrid warfare, responding to them using conventional troops is impossible.” It would appear that the underlying goal is not to improve Russia’s appeal or relations abroad but to improve its ability to defend against modern conflicts such as color revolutions. Though the ends may be the same, highlighting the need to integrate, “diplomatic and other nonmilitary methods of interaction with other states,” it is interesting to see how in the case of Russia, the government is framing soft power in the context of a defensive tool. Still too early to tell, it will be fascinating to see whether Russia’s soft power strategy operates similar to the West or if it acts as a defensive tool against what Russia deems as exterior threats.

END QUOTE

Looking back to the Old Cold War and the Soviets/the communists "expansionist" efforts, back then, to achieve their version of "color revolutions" in Latin America and elsewhere.

And looking back to our, then, employment of such things as our "soft power" and hybrid warfare; this, specifically to defend against these such expansionist designs.

Given this exceptional clear and readily available view, why then do we find it hard to understand, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today (the U.S./the West now being the one on an offensive/expansionist bent; the Rest of the world -- in the face of such a threat -- now taking on the defensive/containment/roll back role) that Russia (et al.) now having such a defensive/"containment"/"roll back" role and requirement, would not (much as we did in the Old Cold War when our such roles were reversed):

a. Adopt and use our very own -- tried and proven -- soft power and hybrid warfare approaches? This, much as we used such against them in the Old Cold War? And this,

b. For the exact same reason, to wit: to thwart, undermine, contain and indeed roll back their opponent's "expansionist" designs?

http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/america-did-hybrid-warfare-too/

Thus Russia (et al.'s) employment today of such things as their "soft power," and hybrid warfare, these are not (much as was the case with our employment of such measures in the Old Cold War) designed to (from the article quote above) "improve Russia’s appeal or relations abroad."

Rather, the employment by Russia (et al.) -- of these such "soft power" and "hybrid warfare efforts and approaches -- these (again much as was the case of the U.S./the West in its defense role in the Old Cold War) are employed (again from my article quote above) "to defend against modern conflicts such as color revolutions."

Thus, in the context of the New/Reverse Cold War offered above, to suggest that:

a. There is nothing new, unusual, not seen before, sinister or complex being seen here. And, accordingly,

b. There is nothing here that one should find difficult -- even in the slightest -- to both understand and appreciate.

Rather, to suggest that what we (the U.S./the West) are having trouble with today is the idea that:

a. In the New/Reverse Cold War of today and with the U.S./the West now having adopted the offensive/"expansionists" role of the Soviets/the communists of the Old Cold War

b. And with our new understanding that our version of such things as "universal values" and "the end of history" -- much like that of the Soviets/the communists before us -- have proven to be gravely insufficiently to the "transformation" task at hand. That, in the face these such difficulties/realities:

c. We may need to look at how they (the Soviets/the communists), back then and re: our/their common "expansionist" role:

1. Successfully worked to overcome these such -- effective -- defensive measures. This, so that we might

2. Achieve, in spite of such potent defensive counter-measures, our expansionist designs.

Bill C....the author should have been much aware of what I posted on the Russian soft power use of info warfare via social media and western MSM PLUS Russian propaganda media outlets, cyber warfare and cold hard cash.......we have had over two long years of experience with these three items.....and can tell exactly how they are used and see their results already.....

QUOTE
Still too early to tell, it will be fascinating to see whether Russia’s soft power strategy operates similar to the West or if it acts as a defensive tool against what Russia deems as exterior threats.

IMHO it is an "offensive" tool designed to change the entire narrative of events as viewed by the targeted complete civil society.....and that narrative is set in Moscow.

Right now the US is limping in this game..yes we have economic power BUT we cannot come anywhere close to matching Russia on the info warfare front and especially we cannot match their over Billion USDs in funding for it NOR are we anywhere close in matching them in the area in cyber warfare...

AND our global political leadership has been largely wiped out by the Obama "do nothing stupid approach" to FP on just about anything lately.....

Outlaw:

One can be reasonably sure that the author of our article here is aware of the extensive use by Russia, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, of such "hard" (not "soft") power measures as the use of social media, cyber warfare and cold hard cash; this, re: Russia's current "defensive" (not "offensive") effort to prevent/reverse unfavorable "color revolutions" in their own back yard/their own sphere of interest. (In this regard think, for example, of the Ukraine.)

This, much as one can be reasonably sure that our author here is likewise aware of the similar extensive use by U.S./the West, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, of the various "hard" power measures/approaches available to us back then; this, re: our similar "defensive" effort -- to prevent/reverse unfavorable "color revolutions" -- in our own back yard/in our own sphere of interest back-in-the-day. (In this regard, for example, think Latin America.)

Thus, it appears that it is not -- as you suggest -- that our author here has been remiss in failing to address these such things (to wit: Russia's extensive use of "hard power" approaches such as cyber warfare, cold hard case, etc.).

Rather, might we understand our author here's failing to address such matters more from the standpoint that "hard power" simply is not what he is addressing/simply is not what he is writing about?

So: What about your important suggestion (if I read you right) that Russia's use of such "hard power" tools -- as propaganda media outlets, cyber warfare and cold hard cash -- must be understood more from the standpoint of Putin needing to "win over" -- and/or simply "buy" -- the loyalty of his own populations?

That is an interesting question/perspective.

And if, as you suggest, the U.S./the West is not adequately competing in this arena/in this contest, then to properly ask, as you do, why not?

(Note: Given its proven inadequacy, suggesting that we are relying on the "overwhelming appeal" of our way of life, our way of governance, etc.; this, we know, cannot by the answer to the question of why we are not competing for the loyalty of the Russian populations; this, for example, via the use of our, similar, "hard power" assets -- which are also readily available for use by we, ourselves, today?)

The author appears to have missed the mark....Russia has a very effective "soft power" concept in play since 2008.....namely the internet..and related social media...appears the author failed to take that into consideration.

BTW....Russia uses "soft power" to shape their political warfare battlefield just as effectively as their hard power....

More network analysis of the current Russian informational warfare/disinformation networks that should be thoroughly understood as one of the core legs of Russian "soft power"......

Kremlin-linked Estonian disinfo op and the surrounding social network
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160821-kornilov_network.html

Modus Operandi: NGO <-> Alternative News <-> Money Laundering
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160821-kornilov_network.html … <- children of the night:

I don’t always put the network entities into a table for ease of identification.
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160821-korn...ork_table.html
http://aktivnyye.com/i/20160821/KornilovNet2

The connection to the Rodina Party was an unexpected gift.

AND another form of info warfare (soft power) hard at work.....

Finnish pro- #Kremlin figure registers another web domain to start up a new fake embassy for #Luhansk

Bill C.....this just scratches the surface on what we know about how Russia employs their "soft power" troll army on the internet and in social media.....there is an ongoing study on the Russian troll army created "fake news sites" that will be coming out soon....

EU Mythbusters
✔ @EUvsDisinfo Another summer #longread: @STRATCOMCOE report on social media as a tool of hybrid warfare:
http://goo.gl/n7fa2U

Russian info warfare...troll networks

"The #Year Of The #Troll":
http://www.rferl.org/content/the-yea.../27419384.html

Geolocating #KremlinTrolls and Their Followers.by @webradius:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150622-

Follow great works @webradius:
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160418-dff.html …& More:
http://aktivnyye.com/index.html
KremlinTrolls are afraid this↑↓

Referrer #Networks":@webradius:
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160215-fringenet3.html

"#Disinformation Flows":@webradius:
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160212-fringenet2.html

"#Disinformation Flows"@webradius:
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160212-fringenet2.html

The Fringes of #Disinfo:A #Network Based on Referrers:@webradius:
http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160207-fringenet1.html

KremlinTrolls:#Russia|ns & their British Reds:by @webradius:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20151003-

KremlinTrolls Blog/Another Look at #Russia|n"diplomat"#Nalobin's #Network:@webradius:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150810-...in_reflux.html

UK #KremlinTrolls&"#STWC-activists'#StoptheWar'"coop.#Russia|n #intel #Nalobin:by @webradius:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150927-nalobinXstwc.html

Watch analysis by @webradius:#KremlinTrolls& Other Acquaintances of #Russia|n EMB #Canada:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150907-canada_plus.html

“#Russia|n #KremlinTrolls >>>
by @webradius >
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150616-ri3m.html
pic.twitter.com/ezDqScQTST

#Russia|n #KremlinTrolls #Putin's.by @webradius:
http://kremlintrolls.com/t/20150616-ri3m.html

KremlinTrolls are engaged in massive anti-UA #propaganda in #Poland:
http://www.stopfake.org/en/kremlin-t...nda-in-poland/

See if you know someone& add to list #KremlinTrolls& other #Kremlin's #UsefuIIdiots of #Russia|n Embassy in #Canada

Do not forget to add #Kremlintrolls& #Kremlin's #UsefulIdiots to list☭&alert about them to followers

The author needs to revisit his stated thesis.....Russian "soft power" is in fact alive and well and a concrete political warfare strategy....and far different from the West FULLY funded....to the tune of over a BILLION USDs......

Bill C.....go back to my definition of Russian "soft power" and convince in less than 10 words that I was wrong in the definition.....informational warfare, cyber warfare coupled with massive Russian black cash.....very simple actually and the author missed the point in his article....

NOW:"Paul #Manafort on #Yanukovych service proofs from “shadow accountancy” of the former Party of Regions”
live http://uacrisis.org/stream

Overall Mr. #Manafort received from the illegally funded Party of Regions that didn't pay taxes $12 774 869 from Nov20,2007 to October5,2012

Russian/Ukrainian black money is everywhere it seems these days.....
Larry King received 225,000 USDs from the Party of Regions for making interview w/ Prime Minister Mykola Azarov in 2012 -

Two Russia stories on the front of WSJ today. Troops on the western border, and anarchists in Bakunin's house. https://twitter.com/WSJ/status/766507507304964096

New Manafort investigations today:

Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/0...ilimnik-227181

AP: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/6eed1...uence-campaign

Me: http://fusion.net/story/338016/trump...nato-protests/
Told y'all

Trump chair Paul Manafort was in Kiev advising pro-Russian party as recently as Oct 2015, contra his earlier claim. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/0...ilimnik-227181

Outlaw:

Not 10 words but, for me, relatively brief:

Bottom Line Up Front: The use of such things as informational warfare, cyber warfare and giving money are examples of "hard power" -- not "soft power." (I could, at this point, simply rest my case. But that would be uncharacteristic of me, so hang on for a more detailed explanation.)

With these such "hard power" approaches (exs: informational warfare, cyber warfare and giving money), one seeks to "coerce;" this, rather than to "attract," and/or to "co-opt," as in the case of when one uses "soft power."

Herein to suggest that, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and indeed in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, possibly the very best, the most useful and the most readily available "soft power" weapon to (a) ALL "resisting transformation" states and societies of (b) ANY era was, and still is, their unique culture, their unique values, their unique history, to wit: the matters that often caused/allowed these "outlying" states and societies to achieve a degree of significant power, pride and independence. (Matters that these such states and societies believe will be lost through such things as "transformation" and "incorporation?")

In the Old Cold War of yesterday, and indeed in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, the use of "soft power" alone -- by those seeking to transform the Rest of the World -- has proven to be highly insufficient/inadequate to the "transforming the Rest of the World" task at hand.

Why? Because both our, and the communists, thoughts re: such things as "universal values" and "the end of history" ultimately have proven to be erroneous/fantasy.

Accordingly, we now find:

a. The current group of nations attempting to transform the Rest of the World (the U.S./the West today) having to revert to the use of "hard power;" this, to see their "transforming the Rest of the World" mission through. And, likewise, we now see::

b. The current group of nations resisting transformation (for example: Russia, China, Iran, etc.), likewise, embracing various forms of "hard power;" this, to help them see their -- diametrically opposed -- "resisting transformation" missions through.

Q: In general then, what should we expect/what are we seeing -- from both sides -- in the New/Reverse Cold War of today?

A: The adoption and use -- much as in the Old Cold War -- of such "hard power" governing approaches as those that come under the heading of "political warfare" -- and "unconventional warfare" used/utilized in the support of same.

It is within these such governing/overarching concepts and approaches, I believe, that one can find/will find both sides, ultimately, using such subordinate "hard power" weapons as "informational warfare, cyber warfare, massive amounts of cash," etc.

Exact same message, different messengers:

Kremlin/SVR:
http://katehon.com/news/hillary-clin...gical-problems

#Trump2016:
https://twitter.com/thedailybeast/st...87009501990913

Russian informational warfare/influence operations well underway inside the US...part and parcel of Russian non linear warfare that we should never forget is always in gear

One of Trump campaign chief's most trusted aides is a former KGB agent. A must read this morning
http://www.politico.eu/article/paul-...nald-trump-us/

Outlaw (et al.):

In conflicts in which:

a. One great nation/group of great nations seeks to transform the Rest of the World more along this/these great nation's -- very strange (ex: think "secular") -- political, economic and social lines (as was the case with the Soviets/the communist in the Old Cold War of yesterday; and as is the case with the U.S./the West in the New/Reverse Cold War of today) and

b. The Rest of the World -- not wishing to be so adversely and profanely "transformed" -- acts so as to resist such unwanted transformations.

In such conflicts as these, the best "soft power" weapon that the "resisting transformation" nations would seem have -- at both their immediate and common disposal -- is their very own individuality, their very own uniqueness; this, as relates to both their own specific way of life, their own specific way of governance, etc., and, indeed, their own specific/unique values, attitudes and beliefs which underpin same.

Accordingly, it would be illogical for these such "resisting transformation" nations not to (a) immediately marshal and immediately make use of these such readily available, and extremely valuable, "soft power" resources and (b) immediately apply these such "soft power" resources to the ongoing "resisting transformation" fight at hand.

This, I suggest, is what the U.S./the West -- and the Rest of the World -- did back in the Old Cold War of yesterday; when the Soviets/the communists, back then, sought to transform the Rest of the World more along communist political, economic and social lines.

And this, I suggest, is what the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, etc. -- and the Rest of the World -- appear to be doing in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, and re: the U.S./the West contemporary efforts to transform, more along modern western political, economic and social lines, the Rest of the World currently.

Indeed, and as I have suggested (more or less) at the nearby "Long Telegram of 2050" thread here on SWJ, these are the very matters that our contemporary "Mr. X" would seem to need to get after/address today; this, if we are going to:

a. Overcome these -- highly potent -- "soft power" obstacles and

b. Transform outlying states and societies, more along modern western political, economic and social lines, in spite of such difficulties/challenges/headwinds.

Bill C..........keep things simple..that is the hardest thing to do in analysis.

Go back to what I posted and then you will understand the connection to this......

Ace by @lukeharding1968 on Manafort, and how dodgy ex-Soviet cash bleeds Westwards and takes corruption with it
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/16/donald-trump-campaign-pa...

Remember that in the Russian oil boom due to the former high prices 5T USDs "simply disappeared" into the pockets of the current and former Russian oligarchs that then wandered into offshore accounts...remember Putin himself is worth an estimated 40B USDs and part of his aggressiveness is to remain in power simply to defend and to add to this 40B USDs.

The 5T did not wander into the support of the civil society that is for sure.

Suggested general framework for this discussion:

a. Re: the Old Cold War of yesterday, the aspects of U.S./Western (etc.) "soft power," that we should be concerned with here; these are those such aspects of one's "soft power" -- that could best be used the U.S./the West and indeed by the Rest of the World -- to counter then-Soviet/communist attempts, back then, to transform the U.S./the West, and indeed the Rest of the World, more along Soviet/communist political, economic and social lines.

b. Likewise, and re: the New/Reverse Cold War of today, those aspects of Russian (etc.) "soft power," that we should be concerned with now; these are those aspects of one's such "soft power" that can be used by the Russians -- and indeed by the Rest of the World -- to counter contemporary U.S./Western efforts to transform both Russia, and indeed the Rest of the World, more along modern western political, economic and social lines.

Thus:

a. If one understands the "nature of the conflict" outlined at both "a" and "b" immediately above (one group of great nations seeks to transform the Rest of the World more along their alien and profane political, economic and social lines; while the Rest of the World acts to prevent such unfavorable and unwanted "transformations"),

b. Then, I suggest, one can likewise understand the "nature of the soft power" -- that will be utilized and employed by the Rest of the World -- to prevent such unfavorable and unwanted "transformations" from taking place.

Herein, and in both cases outlined above (that of the Soviets/the communists and re: their "transformational" attempts in the Old Cold War of yesterday; and that of U.S./Western and re: our such "transformation" attempts today), the "nature of the soft power" that is being employed is that which, logically,

a. Points to the proud, unique and individual character, identities, cultures and histories of the Rest of the World "resisting transformation" states and their societies. And which, thus, logically,

b. Is most likely prove useful in thwarting the foreign great nations -- highly unwanted and unfavorable (and alien and profane) -- transformational attempts.

Thus, in a "nut shell," and as outlined above, to understand the -- common -- nature of the "soft power" approaches of both (a) the U.S./the West and the Rest of the World in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and, indeed, that of (b) the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians -- and the Rest of the World -- in the New/Reverse Cold War of today?

Bill C....Russian "soft power" is relatively simple to understand as it is straight forward and not complicated.....and the author fully missed it.

It has three components.....informational warfare, coupled with cyber warfare backed up with "tons" of cash"....usually liberally applied via Gazprom and/or other Russian State owned companies and or banks. OR in the case of the current Trump campaign manager....100s of USDs in cash out of a safe deep in Ukraine....transferred to offshore accounts....many call that corruption which one might and/or could declare the "fourth option" in the Russian "soft power".....

Sometimes what sounds complicated is often very simple....

There is an old German saying....."hard we can do right away...simple takes years...."

BTW....Russian "soft power" is part and parcel of their non linear warfare...also missed by the author....