Changing Course: Using American Soft Power to Affect U.S.-Cuban Relations
Gavel, Douglas Lloyd
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CitationGavel, Douglas Lloyd. 2010. Changing Course: Using American Soft Power to Affect U.S.-Cuban Relations. Master's thesis, Harvard University, Extension School.
AbstractThe anomaly of U.S.-Cuban relations continues to perplex many citizens, lawmakers, and political scientists who are curious as to the means by which the two nations can develop a more constructive and productive relationship appropriate for the current state of global affairs.
This investigation is intended to determine how American soft power can be harnessed to improve the bilateral relationship and advance the United States' foreign policy objectives in Cuba and Latin America. Soft power is the critical factor in the study for two reasons. First, legitimate questions have been raised about the efficacy of the current strategy for achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives in Cuba, which relies primarily on tough economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, both of which are widely understood as key components of the United States' hard power arsenal. The current strategy has been in place for 50 years and has not brought about the economic, political, and social reforms in Cuba that U.S. policymakers have sought. And second, historical evidence suggests that the use of cultural, economic, and social assets (i.e., soft power) has assisted U.S. efforts in developing mutually beneficial diplomatic relations with multiple nations, including several former adversaries, many of whom are now considered allies of the United States in significant respects. So the analysis seeks to determine whether and how the use of soft power can bring about similar changes in the U.S.-Cuban dynamic - both under current conditions and under conditions resulting from various shifts in U.S. foreign policy strategy.
This study offers a more refined definition of soft power, a definition that incorporates certain economic elements that can and do serve as sources of persuasion for the United States, and further delineates specific components of soft power that can affect foreign relations in the 21st century.
In applying the refined definition of soft power to contemporary U.S.-Cuban relations, several key conclusions are reached, including: 1) American soft power in Cuba is minimal under current conditions; 2) U.S. soft power in Cuba can be enhanced by some relatively low-cost, low-risk adjustments to American foreign policies; 3) bilateral relations can be improved by the enhancement of American soft power in Cuba; and 4) enhanced U.S. soft power in Cuba can serve to advance the United States' foreign policy objectives on the island and in Latin America.
By determining the specific ways in which American soft power can influence stakeholders and thereby impact U.S.-Cuban relations, the findings provide U.S. policymakers with a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which they can leverage soft power assets in Cuba and elsewhere - both now and in the future - in order to build alliances and further U.S. interests abroad.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367550
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