THE “RUSSIAN IDEA” VS. THE “AMERICAN DREAM”:
“SOFT ARM WRESTLING” IN THE CIS
Parviz Mullojanov, Independent Expert (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)
The author analyzes different aspects of the “soft power” phenomenon—ideological, humanitarian and cultural—that the main geopolitical players use in post-Soviet Central Asia. He compares the “soft power” policy of the United States and the Russian Federation and their key parameters: its ideologies and values; the tools and institutions through which this policy is implemented; and the target social and other groups that, under the impact of “soft power,” become its convinced supporters and promote it in their countries.
The author reveals several specific features and distinctions between the Russian and American soft power strategies, many of them, rooted in different ideologies and values, being of a fundamental nature. The tools, target groups, and social bases are likewise different. Today, Russia’s soft power predominates in the post-Soviet space and in Central Asia as its part, yet it remains to be seen for how long.
The author points to several factors that restrain and will continue to restrain the impact of Russian and American “soft power” in the region. In the foreseeable future, the Western/American ideological impact will remain limited, while the current domination of Russia’s soft power looks shaky: it relies on social groups and institutions that have already exhausted their potential. This gives other external players a chance, ISIS and its “soft power novelties” in particular.
Keywords: “soft power,” U.S. foreign policy, foreign policy of the Russian Federation, post-Soviet Central Asia, ISIS.
So far, the rivalry between the great powers for world domination has been described as a “tug-of-war” between teams of professional politicians, diplomats, economists, and financiers. Today, so-called soft power has moved to the fore in the battlefield to push confrontation into the spheres of ideology and culture. In other words, this is a battle for the minds and hearts of the people and the ruling elite or, to put it differently, a competition of…………..