Reputational Security and Other New Priorities: Rethinking Soft Power for 2030

June 2019 No Comments

“Reputational Security and Other New Priorities: Rethinking Soft Power for 2030

Speaker: Cull, N. (University of Southern California)

Date: 4 June 2019

Speaker Session Preview

SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Dr. Nicholas Cull (University of Southern California) as a part of its SMA Future of Global Competition & Conflict Speaker Series. To begin, Dr. Cull highlighted a variety of foreign dangers presented when looking out towards 2030. He first explained that, although Russia is presently an irritant and a disrupter, it is not a long-term threat. Rather, China should be the US’s main concern—it has developed a strategy in pursuit of its long-term goals. In addition, Dr. Cull stated that an Indo/Pakistan War is a very real and long-term foreign danger. However, an even larger danger is an international failure to cooperate. Dr. Cull argued that the appropriate way forward is to bring great powers to the table to work on cooperative solutions, while not forgetting the importance of global public opinion, which Dr. Cull deemed as a great power in and of itself. He then discussed a series of issues within current public diplomacy: 1) Failure to listen; 2) Failure to cooperate (and explain what one is doing); 3) Public diplomacy is currently in favor of domestic consumption rather than foreign consumption; 4) Mismatch of identify and transnational realities; and 5) Public diplomacy is more than just “ads” or positive branding for countries. Furthermore, Dr. Cull contended that reputation is a part of security and should not be overlooked. Building soft power is not just for powerful countries, but for vulnerable ones as well. Countries that have a “good” reputation can reap benefits, even if it is not necessarily “strong” or “rich,” according to Dr. Cull.

Speaker Session Audio File

To access a recording of this session, please email Ms. Nicole Omundson (

Download Dr. Cull’s Biography, Book Flyer, Journal Submission, and Slides


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