It looks hard, it acts soft, but really it’s just a mess: Donald Trump is not that powerful and none of us should miss this great opportunity to ignore him
Reid Foundation Board member Pat Kane has an interesting article on soft power in today’s Scotsman. Hard power is the guns-and-bombs stuff countries do, soft power is the ideas-and-reputations stuff. At the same time I’m reading about Donald Trump’s decision to wage war against the wind turbines – his war against the man in the moon having come to nothing much.
I was trying to think what kind of power is Trump power. It seems sort of hard and if it hits you at first it’s not that nice. But just after it has hit you you realise that in fact it’s brittle and mainly soft. Finally, you realise it’s not much of a power at all, just a slimy mess. It’s like an egg. Being set upon by Donald Trump is like getting hit with an egg. He says he’s ‘coming to get you all’ and because he’s this week’s media buffoon the papers publish it like its a Big Deal. So it looks hard on the outside. But since nobody – nobody – really gives a monkeys what Trumpy says it simply bounces off leaving an unpleasant stain but nothing more.
This is important. Scotland isn’t really a warrior nation any more (despite being dragged into lots of stupid UK wars) and I think everyone now realises that Scotland’s future is one of soft power. As Pat points out, the power of our exports is key and in a close-to-or-past-peak-oil world the fact that we’ve got loads of renewables is crucial. We can sell the electricity – but just as importantly we can sell the idea that we’re a good global citizen with a plan for the future. And there’s money to be made.
Since when did Trump think capitalism should come second to the environment? Or more specifically, does he really back the idea that because something isn’t pleasant to look at we should ignore its financial value? And if so, could we start by applying the principle to him? Or perhaps I’m being unfair and he’s now on his way to Alberta in Canada to fight the good fight on tar sand extraction.
There is a place for a real debate about the best means of harnessing Scotland’s renewable resources and some many note that in this debate I have some sympathy for at least one of Trump’s outpourings. But let’s kick off by being clear that we can’t walk past the opportunity for reasons of deployment of global soft power as well as the economic benefit and the issue of energy security. And let’s hope no-one ducks when the next egg comes flying our way.