34% of world leaders were educated in the United States or Great Britain


It was the American political scientist Joseph Nye who coined the term soft power in 1990 to refer to the ability of certain countries to influence events on the world stage, using cultural or ideological means, as well as military and economic means.

Many think tanks spend some of their time and money capturing and measuring this elusive power, but the British Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has found a way to partially circumvent this difficulty: measuring soft power according to the number of leaders. learners in countries other than their own. The introduction to the Soft Power Index for 2021 is quite simple: the more world leaders who have received a college or university education in a particular country, the more soft power that country has.

leaders. What does the soft power index mean to world leaders? In this version, HEPI has spotted 357 leadership positions around the world, among kings, presidents, and prime ministers. This means that a country may have more than one active leader who was educated abroad, as in the case of the island of Mauritius, where both the President and the Prime Minister received their university education in England. In this case, British soft power adds two points. In the case of a leader educated in both the UK and the US (eg Presidents Michael Higgins in Ireland and Hage Geingob in Namibia, for example) a point is calculated for each country. The SPI also includes commanders who were educated at military academies, such as Sandhurst, but excludes those who received a college or university education at a foreign institution, but at a distance.

They educate leaders only from other countries: France, Australia, Russia, USA and Great Britain

With this system, HEPI has been able to reduce the problem of soft power to a manageable sample: at the moment, only the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and Australia have educated world leaders outside their own lands. Although HEPI is clear and proves that education abroad is not a positive evidence of soft power, it is presupposed that these leaders may show a greater tendency to adopt the values ​​and customs of these countries, than those who have not spent a single season. where they study.

disputes. Little has changed overall since 2017, the year of the first release of this indicator. The dispute over leadership in higher education for world leaders is between the United States and the United Kingdom: 34.17% of the world’s current kings, presidents or prime ministers have attended some American or British university. In third place, somewhat remote, is France, which in the past two years has shown a significant decrease, from 40 to 30, the number of educated world leaders on French soil, while Russia and Australia maintain positions that seem more responsive to historical history. and geographical link.

This first SPI ranking confirmed the United Kingdom’s victory, by educating 57 world leaders in their lands, over the 56 world leaders chosen by the United States. The difference, which in 2017 was only one in favor of the British, was reversed from the following year, even reaching a seemingly unbeatable advantage for the Americans, in the short term at least: in 2021 they have 65 world leaders. who passed through its university institutions, as opposed to 57 who passed through a Briton.

Despite losing hegemony at the hands of the Americans, this year’s British soft power balance turned positive: Four Britain’s educated world leaders (Rouhani in Iran, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Giuseppe Conte in Italy and David Francis in Sierra Leone), but five of them rose to the highest leadership positions in their respective countries: Louis Ars in Bolivia, Bishr Al-Khasawneh in Jordan, Sher Bahadur Deuba in Nepal, Vavil Ramcalwan in Seychelles and Samia Solo Hassan. in Tanzania. All trained in British universities.

In Latin America, the majority studied in the United States

Latin america. Ars’ rise to power in Bolivia, who taught at the University of Warwick, gives us the opportunity to analyze the Latin American context. How many presidents currently in office in the region who have passed through foreign educational institutions?

In Latin America, the soft power of the United States appears to dictate the sovereignty it maintains at the global level. While on the British side are the aforementioned Ars and Carlos Álvarez Quesada (Costa Rica), who studied MA in Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Sebastian Pinera from Chile (Harvard) passed through US educational institutions; Evan Duque from Columbia (Georgetown); Luis Abenader from the Dominican Republic (Hult International Business School); Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras (University of Albany); Laurentino Cortizo from Panama (University of Texas); and Mario Abdo Benítez from Paraguay (Tequeux Post University). In other words, the scale in Latin America tilts from 6 to 2 in favor of the soft power of the United States.

But each HEPI Soft-Power Index is a snapshot of a specific time in a given year (the first week of August 2021, in this case), and as such, it doesn’t reflect what happened before, nor does it reflect what will happen. distance. For example, there were leadership changes in Iran and Moldova recorded in the index, but not a change later in Afghanistan (had they done so, the escape of Ashraf Ghani, educated in Colombia, would have taken a point of US soft power).

This last point also reveals one of the weaknesses of the SPI: that it excludes any other variable that can generate or decrease soft power, depending on how Nye perceives it (the ability to influence the behavior of others without resorting to coercive means). If not, consider the images of Kabul airport and the way they affect the prestige – sometimes more theoretical than practical – of the United States as a global provider of freedom and democracy.

Nevertheless, the HEPI Soft Power Index continues to be a valuable complementary tool for identifying and quantifying the extent of the soft power of forces on the world stage.

* nuevamayoria.uy مدير manager

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