I agree thoroughly with Goldman’s dismissal of Shambaugh’s emphasis on soft power, and with Goldman’s assessment that China is doing the best imitation of realpolitik on the planet today.
The whole notion of soft power, popularized by Joseph Nye, is highly tendentious. Yes, attraction counts. But seldom does it overcome interest, and virtually never does it overcome fear. The most effective soft power emanates from the hard kind. Charles de Gaulle once wrote that power is something around which human beings naturally wrap themselves, that it moves humans the way the sun moves sunflowers.
The historical examples are innumerable.
The salient question about Chinese foreign policy is the extent to which its realpolitik is based on an accurate reading of reality. That,it seems, is Goldman’s point.