Human Lives Human Rights: Following the changes in the structure of world power, and simultaneously the collapse of the Soviet Union in the last decade of the 20th century, the equations of power changed in the 21st century and the use of soft power was placed on the agenda of world powers. Joseph S. Nye considers power to have two layers – hard and soft. Hard power is the ability of an actor to force others to change their stance by force using economic incentives or military strength. In other words, hard power is power based on inducements (carrots) or threats (sticks); But sometimes you can get the outcomes you want without tangible threats or payoffs. The indirect way to get what you want has sometimes been called “the second face of power,” which Nye describes as attraction or persuasion. According to Joseph Nye, soft power is the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion. Therefore, without any doubt, it can be claimed that the most important tools of soft power since the beginning of the new century are public diplomacy, economics, media and human rights.
Human rights have a special place in the US Foreign Policy Strategy, because it gives American politicians a lot of room for maneuver due to its wide scope. The main manifestations of this tool can be seen in America’s use of power in the Middle East. There is no one in the world of politics who is unaware of the great importance of the Middle East region, but the presence of dictatorial regimes in the Middle East has allowed the United States to prioritize the use of human rights in putting pressure on existing governments in the Middle East. Interestingly, even one of the America’s strategic allies in the region – Saudi Arabia, was not safe from this pressure. As a result, the situation of the other governments is clear. Meanwhile, the paradoxical actions of the UN Human Rights Council as well as the Security Council, have provided more ground for the world powers to use soft power.
For example, when countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait tried to put serious pressure on the United States due to rising global oil prices from 2008 to 2011, US politicians at the time, using human rights as tool, prevented Saudi pressure on the United States over oil, or when the Syrian government sought help from US rivals in the civil war, such as Russia and the Islamic Republic, the Americans using human rights tools put pressure on Bashar al Assad, expanded their field of game in Syria to acquire their interests.
With these explanations in the discussion of soft power, human rights may not be as important as economics and diplomacy, but its applications are much broader and have yielded better results.