July 19 (UPI) — An annual rankings report put France, for the first time, atop the “soft power” world leaders list — partly due to the British “Brexit” and U.S. President Donald Trump‘s “America First” stance.
This year’s Soft Power 30 report, released Tuesday by the British-based Portland Communications public relations company and the University of Southern California, had France jump from third to first place to unseat the United States.
The concept of “soft power” — developed by diplomacy and policy expert Joseph Nye — is the ability of a country to attract and co-opt other governments without using military pressure or financial persuasion.
Britain was listed second and the United States fell to third. Germany, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands round out the top 10.
The report said Britain and the United States’ global standing in “soft power” is threatened “due in part to the recent Brexit decision, and the election of a mercurial US President in Donald Trump. Trump’s “America First” doctrine has played poorly abroad, alienating allies, and damaging links with the rest of the world.”
“Brexit” was the result of a referendum held June 23, 2016, in which citizens were asked if the British government should withdraw from the European Union economic bloc. British citizens decided, surprisingly to many, to leave in a 52 percent vote.
In the United States, Trumped kicked off his “Made in America” week at the White House on Monday by showcasing products made in all 50 states and promoting an “America first” approach to manufacturing and trade.
“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 report states. “The president has indicated his preference for hard over soft power, perhaps without properly understanding the need for a combination of both.”
The report also credits recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron, who defeated a far-right nationalist party, for boosting France’s ranking.
“France’s soft power has no doubt seen a boost with the defeat of the Front National and election of its youngest ever president, Emmanuel Macron. Elected on a pro-Europe platform of reform, the president is riding a wave of both domestic and international popularity,” the report added.