Is democracy promotion "soft power"? Over at Foreign Policy, Christian Caryl makes the very important point that, actually, no.
"We Americans tend to see promoting democracy in other societies as a gentle, win-win, do-gooding exercise. What we tend to forget, though, is that introducing democratic institutions into previously authoritarian societies means changing the structure of power. And we should hardly expect those who are losing power to step aside quietly. Those catchwords so favored by the humanitarians may sound harmless, but in certain quarters they have explosive force. "Transparency" is a curse to the intriguer in the shadows. "Accountability" is a nightmare for the unelected autocrat. And "good governance" fills the corrupt official with dread."
Like Caryl, Londonstani also believes that this sort of thing is very worth doing. But lets be clear that in terms of difficulty and effect, it's in no way the easier option.