The Hypocrisy Trap and US Soft Power

30 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2016

See all articles by Hilton L. Root

Hilton L. Root

George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs; George Mason University - Schar School of Policy and Government

Yan Li

Independent

Date Written: January 16, 2016

Abstract

In US foreign policy, the rhetoric does not always follow the reality. A consistent pattern of hypocrisy is evident in US foreign aid where words are matched by neither deeds nor outcomes. A hypocrisy trap is embedded in the logic of democratic politics. Democratically elected leaders cannot admit to the public that foreign aid is an important part of the arsenal of bribery used to gain policy compliance from foreign elites. They have to frame foreign aid as serving a greater cause. In so doing, they create a gap between rhetoric and reality. This institutionalized hypocrisy can be concealed from domestic audience more easily than from the public in the recipient regime who react by rejecting U.S. global leadership. Moreover, publicly available data published by the US government allows documents that the inflow of aid is often accompanied by the deterioration of institutional quality and a contraction of public good provision in the recipient countries. US efforts at extending soft power to win hearts and minds in the developing world are undermined.

Keywords: US Foreign Aid, US Global Leadership, Hypocrisy Trap

Suggested Citation

Root, Hilton L. and Li, Yan, The Hypocrisy Trap and US Soft Power (January 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2716725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2716725

Hilton L. Root (Contact Author)

George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs ( email )

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

George Mason University - Schar School of Policy and Government ( email )

Founders Hall, Fifth Floor
3351 Fairfax Drive, MS 3B1
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Yan Li

Independent ( email )

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