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Geopolitics

Saudi Arabia: The Courage Of One Woman Speaks For An Entire Nation

Samar Badawi was one of several women just honored at the International Women of Courage Awards. But her personal courage has been displayed in her native Saudi Arabia, potentially the most misogynist country in the world.

Samar Badawi between Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton at the 2012 International Women of Courage Awards (State Dept)
Samar Badawi between Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton at the 2012 International Women of Courage Awards (State Dept)
Dietrich Alexander

Samar Badawi looks a little forsaken on the big stage in Washington. Shyly, she listens to the noble words a world-famous figure is saying about her: "You are making a difference. And we thank you for that." Then suddenly the small woman in black who hails from the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah is standing between Hillary Clinton and the world's other most powerful woman, Michelle Obama.

Clinton's words were part of the ceremony honoring those who won International Women of Courage Awards. Since 2007, ten women from around the world, selected from possible candidates whose names are sent in by U.S. embassies, are invited to Washington for the award ceremony. In 2012, other award winners came from Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Colombia.

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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?

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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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