Its obsession with using it has led the Egyptian State to believe that hard power is literally the only practical tool capable of helping to resolve all of Egypt’s challenges. In practice, the current ruling strategy completely neglects soft power, as mirrored in not even appointing executives who possess this talent to senior government positions. The non-existence of soft power in Egypt has turned many of the State’s supporters into outright opponents.
Egyptians tend to become affiliated to the State in circles. The inner circles are the loyal citizens who benefit from the State and, naturally, defend its policy in every way. However, this circle is by default limited in number; its members lose influence over time and are unable to effectively sustain and support State policies in the medium term. The outer layers of State affiliates are composed of the majority of citizens – maintaining their loyalty to the State is difficult since soft power (that is completely absent) is the only tool of influence that appeals to them.
Because hard power provides an efficient channel for conveying its message unambiguously and with immediate results, the Egyptian State tends to use it continually – but sadly, with short-lived results! The Egyptian State, unfortunately, does not have the necessary endurance to use soft power, which, backed by maintaining durable outcomes, would enable it to move from one proposition to another smoothly. It believes that a combination of nonsensical rhetoric and coercion can contain the anger created among citizens by the deteriorating economic conditions.
The Egyptian State often complains that it is confronting difficult challenges (the economy, population growth and terrorism). In fact, these are the exact same challenges that Egypt has been facing for decades, but our former political aspirants used to soften these challenges and were able to handle them better. Our problems are certainly magnified nowadays; however, this may be due to the ascendancy of hard power over soft policies.
That the Egyptian State has clearly failed in its public diplomacy efforts is reflected in the harsh criticism it receives from almost all renowned international writers. Nonetheless, the State believes that it does not need the support of international authors as long as it is able to reach out to their governments directly. It is convinced that it can undermine these writers’ soft power and does not realize that they are certainly impacting their political decision-makers, overlooking the fact that the western nations’ famous “revolving door” policy could soon bring these very same authors to power.
Egypt used to expend substantial efforts to offering functional solutions to regional conflicts. Our failure to employ government executives who have the necessary talents or even to accord some degree of priority to regional problems, have made us less influential on the regional level. Moreover, in the eyes of many nations Egypt’s ongoing political stance of fighting terrorism on behalf of the entire world appears to be hackneyed and trite.
Being utterly comfortable with the use of hard power has weakened the State’s ability to make use of different policies and tools, a technique that Egypt used to manipulate skillfully in the past. Egypt is at present stuck with its internal challenges and plays an extremely limited role in most of the region’s conflicts. As a result, our country has become less appealing to many nations that are reluctant to support us by expanding their investments and encouraging their citizens to visit our nation.
The Egyptian State is simply buying time by offering citizens a succession of economic promises that it knows it cannot deliver. The overlapping circles that have been supporting the current ruling regime are fading fast, and the State may end up with the support of only the single inner circle of State beneficiaries. Hard power will be useless when Egyptians are no longer able to accommodate the current economic crisis. At that point, the State will certainly regret the absence of soft power.