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Families coming home after school in Montmartre, Paris
Families coming home after school in Montmartre, Paris
Liz Garrigan*

PARIS — Two nights ago, there were sounds outside our apartment window that I was convinced were gunfire. It was 9 p.m., and my husband was 30 minutes late getting home. I sent a breathless text message right away, imagining him on the sidewalk with bullet holes through his chest. He was on the Metro.

Two hours ago, I received an email from the director at our boys' Franco-American school saying that Paris police had requested the school practice a mise en sécurité — a shelter exercise, or lockdown — in which the children would be asked to gather in the school's basement. She informed us that they would also be conducting another drill in which the students would be directed to get under their tables for five minutes, and that the school would be implementing a text-all system through WhatsApp.

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Geopolitics

Is Soft Power Dead?

With an activist Supreme Court creating a gap between democratic rhetoric and reality in the U.S., and Russia and China eager to flex military muscle, the full-force return to hard power looks bound for dominance.

U.S. flag and Chinese flag

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia's war in Ukraine rages on, tensions are erupting in the South China Sea and now abortion rights are being stripped away in the U.S.: Looking around the world, we have to ask: what is left of the notion of soft power?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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How can we talk about the power to convince when the power to coerce is increasingly the norm? And when there is such a gap between rhetoric and reality in the U.S. and in Russia and China, hard power almost seems to have become part of soft power?

“We will lead the world not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Joe Biden said the day after his election. But what kind of example was he talking about? That of the Supreme Court’s judges, whose decision promises a terrible future to women and to all those who still wanted to believe in an enlightened and liberal America?

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