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Soft power worth the cost

#1
Spend money on army not foreign aid, says former defence minister - Telegraph

Is soft power worth the cost?

From my perspective the British Council for instance have influenced many younger people and the up and coming in foreign governments through their English language programmes not only in Central Europe but around the world - as an example, Slovakia was about to derail in 1997 with officers talking of topping Meciar, but it has transitioned into a democracy.

However, is soft power in all its guises worth it? Would it be better to spend the money on the military?

Answers on a post card please!
 
M

Mr_Tigger

Guest
#2
As someone that has seen the work of DFID close up in a place HMG have credible security concerns and that has operational implications for ops in AFG I can categorically say, no.

We can save on the transaction cost of aid projects by just upfront buying the local organised crime net... I mean government officials, a helicopter each. At least it would support jobs at AW.
 
#3
I'm sure that I've said this before, but we should never send monetary aid to anyone, ever.

If people in other, friendly countries are in desperate need of stuff, then we send them stuff - British-made stuff.
 
M

Mr_Tigger

Guest
#4
The reality is 2 man/woman DFID stations will not be able to handle the extra influx on cash. They can't do bigger projects because that would cause all kinds of political problems as it would be high profile. Therefore it is going to thrown at many smaller (often third party) run projects with FA oversight and due diligence because they are not super human and there are only so many hours in each day.

If there is going to be UKAID in this way the projects should not be fully funded because you get no local community buy in. What you get is a dependancy culture.
 
#5
As someone that has seen the work of DFID close up in a place HMG have credible security concerns and that has operational implications for ops in AFG I can categorically say, no.

We can save on the transaction cost of aid projects by just upfront buying the local organised crime net... I mean government officials, a helicopter each. At least it would support jobs at AW.
As admitted, I have only seen one element of soft power and it helped to get Meciar out of power democratically thus enabling a country to develop a democracy that otherwise would have orientated towards Russia - and allowed a strategic hold to be established for Russia in Central Europe... think of the cost of keeping the military in Germany for instance?
 
#6
The reality is 2 man/woman DFID stations will not be able to handle the extra influx on cash. They can't do bigger projects because that would cause all kinds of political problems as it would be high profile. Therefore it is going to thrown at many smaller (often third party) run projects with FA oversight and due diligence because they are not super human and there are only so many hours in each day.

If there is going to be UKAID in this way the projects should not be fully funded because you get no local community buy in. What you get is a dependancy culture.
Don.t disagree with that.
 
#7
Just noticed the poll results...

Thank you for voting!



Yes, many of the countries no longer need hand-outs and squander the money 95.07% (1,195 votes)


No, we have a moral duty to help struggling economies and it is an important form of diplomacy 4.93% (62 votes)


Total Votes: 1,257

Return To Poll
 
#9
Several things from the article....
Gerald Howarth, the former defence minister who lost his job in the reshuffle, said other countries are beginning to question whether the UK is a "serious player" because of cuts to the defence budget
Amazing that these people speak up with their concerns after they`ve been given the boot, not much use when out of office.
He said almost all Conservative backbenchers share his view that spending on foreign aid should not be rising from its current level of £12 billion - or 0.7 per cent of national income.
Then why are they not making themselves heard ?
The Prime Minister yesterday defended his commitment to increasing foreign aid during a speech in New York. He called on other nations to keep their pledges and said now is "not the time to turn away from the poorest people in the world".
Why do I get the feeling that Cameron is trying to come across as another `world statesman` a la Bliar. Maybe he`s feathering his nest for the lucrative lecture circuits post election.
 
M

Mr_Tigger

Guest
#10
I suppose the question is; what is the soft power trying to achieve?

I have no problem with arming, bribing, funding groups that can deliver political change. I am also whole heartedly in favour in the work of the British Council and the BBC World Service.

The reality is the FCO is suffering with people retiring fast and only FS personnel coming through. Posts are closing, staffs are shrinking especially on the consular side, (which is now subject to a ridiculous re-org and centralisation), but also and more worryingly on the policy side. While all this is happening the DFID stations are raking it in and spending lavishly on providing the services the host govt should have responcibility for. Most of it is not even capacity building.

Cut it dramatically and it shall be spent more wisely. The saving should be split between the policy side of the FCO and the rest to bolster the defence budget. I think it would be great to see a few RFA causality receiving ships procured through the aid budget and dispatched to allies in time of need.
 
#11
I agree with the former defence minister and I quite disagree with Cameron.

Cameron states that we must give aid to prevent refugees etc coming to our shores. Well that to me is stupidity. We can stop them at our shores with effective border control (granted it needs sorting) and they are coming to our shores anyway. There is no gain to foreign aid on our side.

Giving aid to other countries has just worked to get them to hold the begging bowl out more. We have our own problems in the UK and we are sacrificing services etc to give aid to the countries. It is time we****ed them off and looked after our own for a change.
 

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#12
Why do I get the feeling that Cameron is trying to come across as another `world statesman` a la Bliar. Maybe he`s feathering his nest for the lucrative lecture circuits post election.
Probably True, but which would you prefer? An awful lot of this money is going to be wasted but what type of world statesman would you rather have? £12bn in various Kleptocrat Numbered Bank Accounts; or another couple of tours of Basra where the government that sent you get a dose of the election willies and don't allow you to do anything but count the UXB's in your accommodation?
 
M

Mr_Tigger

Guest
#13
I rather feel that if the aid money was invested in creating a viable, robust and stand-alone HMF with our own key enablers in then we would be less inclined to follow Uncle Sam about just to keep him onside in case we ever need call on him for logistical, EW and ISTAR assistance.
 
#14
Having seen the DfID crowd, in the PRT, at LKG. I could only draw the conclusion that they are, a (very expensive) exercise in diversity.
 
#15
Speak softly and carry a big stick.

A well selected, recruited, retained, trained, led Armed Forces can as easily slap uppity foreigners as dig wells and give pens to kids.

Was it the Canadians who found that an Army/Armed Forces adequately trained for Medium Intensity Ops found Low intensity ops more difficult that those countries who trained for the worst scenario.
 
#16
Big flashy aid projects disaster small micro finance.
The scheme that gives a couple of thousand to former illegal immigrants to **** off and set up a small bussiness because its cheaper than a forced deportation and if they have a stake they wont be coming back.
Works small amount of cash small target. Success.

Dfid can work somewhere nice and soft if they need flak jackets and a plattoon to defend them its not going to work
 
#17
I'll just put my two penneth in for what it's worth back in the 70's I was working for Bata after I left the army and we did a fair bit of business in machinery all over the world backed by the ECGD or Export credit guarantee department, which guaranteed that the bills were paid if the recipients didn't cough up, which was always a risk in some areas. Now it seems to me that the concept of Foreign aid is no longer linked in with HMG aspirations directly, but sprayed around in the hope of a pay back somewhere. Bata was one of those global companies which worked at all levels, building factories, providing employment and subsequently revenue for the host nations and that provided stability. So am not in favour of a lot of the aid as it is done now, it's less focused.
 
#18
Spend money on army not foreign aid, says former defence minister - Telegraph

Is soft power worth the cost?

From my perspective the British Council for instance have influenced many younger people and the up and coming in foreign governments through their English language programmes not only in Central Europe but around the world - as an example, Slovakia was about to derail in 1997 with officers talking of topping Meciar, but it has transitioned into a democracy.

However, is soft power in all its guises worth it? Would it be better to spend the money on the military?

Answers on a post card please!
"Soft power" was a catchy phrase banded about by academics (with little understanding of the real world) to impress liberal policy-makers.

The aims and objectives of foreign aid, cultural and education initiatives are wholly different to a defensive military force which is in turn wholly different to an offensive military force.

First decide on what your foreign policy is (how you wish to be seen by the international community), what you wish to achieve with that policy (the objectives), and then decide which tools you are going to use to make it happen.

So, if you decide uppity wog bashing to spread democracy is your choice of action, forget about the British Council and their sneek-peak poetry reading circles. And vice-versa.
 
#19
Er, surely good foreign relations require both soft and hard power.


The difficult bit is actually (a) getting each part right and (b) getting the balance between the two correct.


If you try and just use force all of the time, the entire world will - quite rightly - think you're a ****. Speak softly - carry a big stick.
 
#20
Er, surely good foreign relations require both soft and hard power.


The difficult bit is actually (a) getting each part right and (b) getting the balance between the two correct.


If you try and just use force all of the time, the entire world will - quite rightly - think you're a ****. Speak softly - carry a big stick.
I don.t disagree but where I can see soft power used to influence up and coming nation makers that turns a country away from becoming a soviet (Russian) satellite again, I have to say I am impressed. Where I see money wasted in Afghanistan both military endeavor and DFID you have to question what the Brits in Britain are spending their taxes on in allowing the current shower of crap, and the previous administrations, to fund both.
 

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