France tops US in Soft Power as India fails to make Top 30

France has ousted the United States as the world's premier soft power, according to new rankings in which India does not make even the Top 30, but China does.

A term first used by the American political scientist Joseph Nye to describe the use of political values, culture, and foreign policy as a means of persuasion rather than hard military power, the US has long been seen as the Numero Uno in the Soft Power business.

But apparently, the election of Donald Trump as the US President, followed by the countervailing victory of Emmanuel Macron in France, has resulted in the European power surging to the top spot, pushing the United States to third. The United Kingdom comes in second.

"Macron has now been handed the mandate to help lead France through a period of pro-business and pro-EU reforms," wrote the authors of The Soft Power 30, which is published by PR firm Portland Communications. "What emerges from these reforms will likely be a more dynamic and energized France that plays a leading role in the EU and perhaps shows greater global leadership overall."

Of course, there is also the small matter of France's massive diplomatic outreach, particularly in some 25 Francophone countries, and its reputation as a cultural crucible and a culinary lodestar.

In contrast to France's constant and expanding engagement, the report says Trump's 'America First' doctrine has played poorly abroad, alienating allies, and damaging links with the rest of the world.
"The rise of Trump could be viewed as a threat to American soft power, not least because his kind of populist rhetoric is known for devaluing international alliances," the authors said, noting his call for a Muslim ban and the anti-immigrant sentiments since he jumped in the the political fray.

In his more than six months in office, Trump has shown very little signs of aesthetic and cultural sensibilities.

Germany comes in at fourth in the rankings, followed by (in that order) Canada, Japan, and Switzerland. Australia, Switzerland, and The Netherlands round off the Top Ten.
China makes the cut at 25th, and Brazil and Turkey round it off at 29 and 30, leaving India, which has claims of being a soft power outside the rankings.

Although Indian cuisine is far more popular and widespread than German or Australian cuisine (neither of which has any cuisine to speak of) and India exports far more entertainment than some of the Top Ten, the country suffers because of its widespread poverty and poor infrastructure, which makes it inhospitable to tourists even though it has some of the best tourist sights in the world.

"Broadly speaking, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile also perform decently in the public polling, all outperforming public perceptions of India, for example, which has been increasingly touted in select media as a soft power juggernaut," the report observed.

The report also noted that travel to the US has also been hit hard by Trump's rhetoric.

In 2016, foreign tourism generated $2.3 trillion in the US economy, creating 15 million American jobs. Already, estimates show a drop in tourism to the tune of $7 billion, the biggest drop the industry has seen since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

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