Hitting with soft power
The advantage of getting your objectives through soft power is greater than the hard power. Soft and hard tools of power are two different things adopted in different conditions and used in different manner to go for your target.
Soft power has its own place and time of use and a country should be well-established, stronger economically and militarily and with effective diplomatic channels in the globe.
Primarily the use of soft power which can be in practical terms the cut of economic times, halt of investment, international organisations’s missions, sanctions, limited access to global connectivity and with ultimate target of global isolation is in the interest of the party the initiate the step.
In the era of globalization and international connectivity of trade, communication and exchange of goods and services the countries are interconnected and if an hostile actor or state emerges within the global village it would not be in once interest to take immediate military action against it because going for military action meant prompt action which would have bad effects over trade and economy of other states.
The sensitivity of the region and approval from allies also matters so states preferred to go for soft tools if a hostile state or actor surfaced.
No power in the contemporary era wanted to go to full-fledge war against enemy state and actors but the option to hit with soft power, building alliances and supporting internal actors such as militia groups was the strategy being adopted
Take the example of Syria where the US has its own allies and the Russian has it won partners. Yet they support militia groups on the ground to serve their own interest.
North Korea is another example which the US, Japan, South Korea and China were unable to find solution the nuclear powered Peninsula. The communist peninsula had been hit with all type of soft power tools ranging from light sanctions to heavy sanction. The military action would be however the last option.
The US and its allies invasion of Afghanistan was different case where within a month it was decided that a military action supported by the UNSC resolution was carried out.
It has been a common say that every action has reaction. The US on the 9/11 was hit so badly and such action was imminent and it was not the first time the then Afghanistan based Alqaeda hit the US but earlier the group target US mission in Africa.
To conclude we can say that using soft power tools need soft targets for example you want to change the mind set, put pressure on the position and accept you say on others you need soft power.
In addition the should be soft targets existing to hit them, but in case of Afghanistan the country was already isolated during the Taliban regime and nothing else except the military action against the Taliban was appropriate.