Soft Power 2020
Am joined today on special soft power program by mongols foreign editor megan gibson monocle culture editor kiara ramallah and monocle twenty four culture correspondent and eurovision desk chief. Fernando augusto up. We have a lot to cover in analyzing who made l. top ten this year and who didn't but we should talk about first of all meghan. What an unusual year for calibrating soft power. This was because of course it was like every country on earth given the same test it was like he is a pandemic deal revert. And see what it says about you. As a nation did it make a difference on how countries will seen by the rest of the world and soft power terms. It absolutely did like you said every country was dealing pretty much the same set of problems but just as internally the pandemic kind of shed light on where countries weren't up to snuff and where there's certain systems were lacking or the social welfare net was not working so too did a show which countries were really relying on kind of coasting approach to diplomacy and soft power. Every country had to turn inward in some respect. You had to face an economy. Crunch you had to face a healthcare crisis but a lot of countries still managed to think about diplomacy and what. They're projecting abroad and to other countries and global cooperation. And that is something. I think that kind of threw up some surprises when we actually looked at the year in terms of soft power some countries that have never made our list before immediately caught our eye. Well let's talk about that. We'll come back a bit later to how different countries responded to the covid nineteen crisis. But let's look first of all at our top ten and meghan all ask you again. You were talking about surprise entries in the top ten. Who is there. The see that hasn't been before i think the first one. I'm going to go to taiwan. And i should say we've done top ten this year. Usually we do top twenty five. We quickly realized that there weren't twenty five countries. That actually made that good impression on the world. I would say this year. A peace prize in the nineteen forties. Exactly we cut it down to ten and picked the ten countries that did something notable on the world stage and taiwan absolutely one of them from their stellar leadership in actually handling the virus. Which i mean has seen the country. Even today has had quite a minimal effect. On at the helm of its citizens numbers have been tiny and given their proximity to china. Remarkable for that. That's just been something that they've really been able to step up and show that they've had good leadership and for such a tiny country and a country that has been long grappling with a very antagonistic neighbor. That's been really impressive. And i think we've also could look at another country that has made our list consistently but also small and has done really well with the pandemic and that's new zealand new zealand again a beneficiary of its leadership and of its leader. Another factor we will come back to later in the show. I wanted to bring you in now. Kiara refu- look at the top ten. Were there any entries in there that left out at you. It's difficult for me to look at this without my cultural hat on. Because i do think that cultural exports make up so much of a country soft power their own way. You know if you do have a tv hit. That really can change. The international perspective of people have on your country in the issue. We have profile of borgen. The danish show which kind of guess kicked off almost a huge facination with scanning wa. I'm happy that south korea is in the fair number and i were discussing. Grammy results on are getting their first ever kind of major grammy nomination. I mean that is huge because the grammys are essentially a us kind of awards ceremony. Yes of course it has one global subcategory but it's largely. Us fakest for a korean bond to be nominated as part of that really means that they have become not only a korean band moore global bond and that radius testament to the power of capes. I think south korea has really well deserved second-place cultural reasons but also for all the other reasons dr megan was discussing. It's very interesting. Also you you know you mentioned new zealand as well and perhaps it's a very niche reason to be very well known abroad but i do think that new zealand has got an increasing amount of really interesting. Musical acts that are genuinely world class. I'm talking the likes of zuma. Alice harding benet talking. Broods mullen williams all quite indie acts but in the the community which is very dedicated. Genuinely these are kind of agenda setting also around the world. So i think it's really interesting. That a tiny nation can produce a really interesting side of the musical experimentation side of things obviously around this table. Four nations are represented all nations with instantly recognizable and widely understood national brands. And that's my nation of australia. Kiara of italy fernando's of brazil megan's of canada which i notice is the only one in the top ten. This whole thing is just the most shameless stitch-up so fernando to bring you in brazil a country with a powerful national brand and yet you are not in the top ten this year. Do you feel especially put out by that is. Is there a case you would like to make well. No no no not not in two thousand twenty eight gave you the big buildings builder. People would be surprised by me. Because i always a believer brazilian. I'm very proud of being resilient. And i am still an and we do have an amazing opportunity to be one of the best countries in soft power so perhaps in a few years will be there the top of the list but honestly i mean this year has been terrible for brazil president. He's an isolationist. he's not handling very well. The situation in the rain forest which matters a lot for the outside world. Perhaps those of us who enjoy breathing so exactly. But i mean it. It is an issue in brazil. but i notice. We've all my friends when they say. Oh how during forest the amazon. Your president doesn't care. And of course his declaration sometimes every day he said something quite offensive to specific groups. And it's funny. I was trying to say i mean. What is brazil doing. well now we. We are student load of great things but even at football you have. Our biggest star neymar liked by some. But he's but even in brazil. Laura people don't like neymar like perhaps some aspects of his personality. So then i think even football. We're not so well liked turfing. We need to improve. I am an optimistic. I think things will change but two thousand twenty is yeah. I agree it. It's not the year of brazil. And i do think this year has been a blip for a lot of countries and as i was saying you know cultural experts from italy. Obviously still very strong italian food still eating around the world unloved around the world especially on this table but this year it was all about the countries that had cut through and what the cut through was what the stories that were resonating around. The world like fernandez. The amazon is what people were thinking about. When they thought about brazil they were not thinking of amazing beaches. Or you know wonderful culture and things like that it was the bad headlines that were really being projected around the world just finally in this first part of the show. I am going to rise heroically above complaining too much about the struggles exclusion in favor of new zealand. And just let these self evident absurdity of that speak for itself but meghan there couple of other countries which again have shoes soft power in princeton fact arguably the countries with the to hugest soft power imprint i e the united kingdom and the united states neither of the mike it and is that just about covid nineteen and all the people who happened to be leading them at the moment. It is definitely down to leadership. Soft power is usually something that is built up over years and decades so usually it can survive a bad year it can survive a wrong thinking government but in the case of the uk and definitely the us. It's not that. Diplomacy was neglected in the last few years. I mean we've seen a lot of policies that have been actually hostile to global cooperation. And i think a lot of people's perceptions of those countries have really shifted especially when it comes to the us under donald trump.