The devastating news 7.8 magnitude earthquakes in Syria and Turkey This has been to say the least, very distressing. Massive urban destruction and millions without basic services left behind, leaving thousands under rubble. More than 20,000 people have been killed so far.
A region in crisis was hit at an extremely unfortunate time. Syria is currently embroiled in a civil conflict that has lasted more than a decade. This war often spilled over into the Turkish borderlands. The epicenter of the disaster added to the already devastating effects. What’s more, the harsh winter weather has made rescue efforts more difficult and survival less likely.
International response was swift with international relief agencies converged on the area to offer assistance and support. There is still much to do. Although the U.S. is already providing disaster assistance in Turkey, there are still many things that can be done. This is a noble undertaking that is well within our geopolitical interests. This type of emergency assistance, which is provided by American experts on the ground and meets the highest standards of soft power, is an excellent example of what the United States excels at.
Soft power is a term coined by Joseph Nye Jr., a political scientist. “a country’s ability to influence others without resorting to coercive pressure.” In his book on the subject, Nye details three key sources of a nation’s soft power: culture, political values, and foreign policies. All of these are “attractive” We need to convince foreign countries that we have the right forces, even if they don’t force them. Traditionally, soft power has been wielded by the private sector — think Coca-Cola, Hollywood, and pop music — although governments can use this approach as well. Soft power can help us build a better reputation with governments and peoples abroad. This can lead to stronger relationships that can be used for our benefit.
Foreign aid and humanitarian support are prime avenues for the government to be involved in soft power. These programs are often not popular among the political right but they do not have to be. The goal of this aid should be to enhance the U.S.’s international image in order to better achieve our geopolitical ends; unfortunately, this realist understanding is too often subsumed by a bureaucracy that seeks to promote radical leftism overseas.
Nonmilitary Aid (Around 0.5 percent of each federal budget is spent annuallyIt allows us to reach large numbers of countries and to expand our influence in areas where we don’t want military intervention. It is a powerful diplomatic tool that conservatives should not ignore just because it is associated to Democratic causes.
To be conservative in American foreign aid, one must remain noncontroversial both at home and abroad. One should also look for ways to get more bang for your buck. Our unique skills and capabilities should be tapped, along with the fundamental values of freedom and justice.
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