Rhetorical Work in Soft Power Diplomacy: The U.S.-India 123 Agreement and a Relationship Transformed

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Walker, Mary Karen
Klumpp, James F
My dissertation, <italic>The Rhetorical Work of Soft Power: The U.S.-India 123 Agreement and a Relationship Transformed</italic>, broadens and deepens our understanding of soft power diplomacy as a creation of constitutive rhetoric. I perform a rhetorical critique of discourses generated during three years' debate on the U.S.-India 123 Agreement, a watershed moment in bilateral relations. In Chapter 1, I introduce the frames of reference that guided my research, set my project within the literature stream, and lay foundations for my argument. In Chapter 2, I explore how soft power discourse facilitated India's diplomatic move from outside to inside the nonproliferation regime. I introduce identification and courtship as constructs to explain soft power attraction, presenting narratives of exceptionalism, deliverance and kinship that emerged from discourse. In Chapter 3, I explain the bilateral movement from estranged to engaged as deepened identification and consubstantiation, the achievement of a permanent union. I trace the development of "democracy," "pluralism," and "creativity" as terms of ideological commitment and mutual obligation. I also present two additional narratives, the sojourner narrative, which reconstituted the Indian Diaspora's political identity, and the convergence narrative, which constituted the United States and India as bilateral partners and transformed the U.S.-India 123 Agreement from an idea about nuclear cooperation into the embodiment of a resilient, enduring, and comprehensive partnership. Each narrative drew in substances of identification that reduced recalcitrance, changed perspectives, overcame estrangement, and motivated concerted action. Chapter 4 outlines benefits of my research for rhetoricians, soft power proponents, and diplomacy specialists. For rhetoricians, I enrich our limited study of diplomatic discourse and generate insight into dramatistic theory and criticism. For soft power theorists, my project as a whole gives explanatory force to soft power as a creation of constitutive rhetoric. The consequent reinterpretation of the telos, processes, and resources of soft power makes soft power attraction more transparent. For the diplomatic corps, I encourage new ways of conceptualizing and talking about diplomatic aims and achievements. Chapter 4 thus frames longer-term objectives to further develop the rhetoric of diplomacy, to undertake theory-building in soft power diplomacy, and to integrate soft power diplomacy with diplomatic tradecraft.