“Power over opinion is… not less essential for political purposes than military andeconomic power, and has always been closely associated with them. The art of persuasion has always been a necessary part of the equipment of a political leader.But the popular view that regards propaganda as a distinctively modern weapon is,nonetheless, substantially correct… Democracies, or the groups which control them,are not altogether innocent of the arts of molding and directing public opinion.”
E. H. Carr
In 1981, British realist and writer E. H. Carr defined international power as being divided intothree categories: military, economic and power over opinion.
The last of these is notoriouslydifficult to measure, and to consciously control. To date, theorists like Joseph Nye have usedpublic opinion polls, particularly those canvassing the attitudes people in other countries holdtowards the United States, to try to gauge how effective American soft power is, and howpalatable its ideals are beyond its borders. For this paper, I chose to examine the export of American thought by documenting the presence of American columnists on newspaper opinionpages around the world in the 2000s. This was in part an attempt to assess what impact, if any,September 11 and the war in Iraq had on the demand for American opinion by editors who act aslocal gatekeepers of thought.In this paper, I sought to answer three questions:1.
Were there any studies on America’s power over opinion, measured by the presence of their commentators - including those from think tanks - on the op-ed pages in othercountries?2.
Had there been an increase in the number of American opinion pieces published in othercountries? If so, why was this happening?3.
Were American columnists conscious of, or writing for, their global audience?