Thursday, February 5, 2009

Using smart power to solve foreign policy struggles

In her recent feature article for The Star, Lynda Hearst takes a look at how a smart power approach can advance the international cooperation and built a first step towards solving the current foreign policy struggle of the U.S.

Just as stated in the Gilboa reading we discussed in class, Hearst defines the smart power approach as an “integration of hard and soft power, maintaining military strength while using persuasion and example to seed democracy, human rights and other Western ideas throughout the world.”

Arguing that hard power alone will not secure global security Hearst underscores the need to find the right combination of the two approaches.

"Although an aggressive campaign against Al Qaeda and its kin remains central, it must form only part of a broader strategy, one that offers something to societies struggling to resist the rise of extremism and to overcome underdevelopment, health crises, and environmental degradation."

Hearst sees high potential in implementing citizen diplomacy tactics as a soft power component to the overall strategy; however, the multiple opportunities to engage are “scattered throughout government, with nothing linking them with military power into a grand, unified approach to the rest of the world.”

The challenge for the Obama Administration therefore lies in finding a way to unify the soft power opportunities and integrating them into the overall foreign diplomacy approach. Especially in countries where the U.S. military has been very present during the last years, the public will remain skeptical towards the new foreign policy approach.

As a conclusion, Hearst refers to Brian Kutilis who sees Pakistan as the first country where the smart power approach should be implanted: “Pakistan – with its first democratically elected government in more than a decade but ongoing security threats within and from without – will be the initial test of the new strategy.”

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