America’s Not First. It’s Third.
The United States slips behind France and the U.K. in this year’s soft-power ranking.
France has knocked the United States out of its top spot in a new annual ranking of countries in “soft power.”
The “Soft Power 30″ report, released Tuesday by Portland Communications, in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, combines data and international polling to measure governmental commitment to issues such as freedom and global cultural reach, among other areas.
France has been in fourth and fifth place the last two years, but leapfrogged ahead this year. The report credits President Emmanuel Macron’s global outlook, his pro-business and pro-EU agenda, and his domestic and international popularity for the country’s climb to number one.
The United States’ fall to third place, behind the United Kingdom, is due to its promotion of nationalist rhetoric rather than international alliances, according to the report. The authors cite the U.S. decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate deal as evidence of this shift.
“The rankings offer yet another data point reporting a fall in America’s global reputation and influence,” Jonathan McClory, one of the authors of the report, said. “A reduction in American soft power ultimately means a diminished ability to lead on shaping global events.”
The report warns that the planned budget cuts to the State Department, and the lack of key appointments in government, is showing the United States’ weakness and undermining its global influence. Additionally, it warns that President Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan and ideology is working to isolate the United States, rather than prioritize it.
“Trump’s ‘America First’ doctrine has played poorly abroad, alienating allies, and damaging links with the rest of the world,” the report says.
The report also notes that most European countries have either improved or held their rankings, while Asian countries are generally increasing their soft power.
Though Soft Power 30 only lists the top 30 countries, the authors of the report believe there could be a lot of turnover to the list in the next year.
Photo credit: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Jesse Chase-Lubitz is a freelance journalist and was a 2019-2020 Henry Luce Foundation Scholar at the Japan Times. Twitter: @jesschaselubitz