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Making the Hard Move to Soft Power
Report of CSIS Soft Power Commission Charts Path for US Foreign Policy
11/08/2007 12:15 PM ET
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (L) and Joseph Nye Jr. (R), former Asst. Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and former Chair of the National Intelligence Council, served as co-chairmen of CSIS's Smart Power Commission.
Alex Wong/AFP/Getty
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (L) and Joseph Nye Jr. (R), former Asst. Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and former Chair of the National Intelligence Council, served as co-chairmen of CSIS's Smart Power Commission.

“Today’s central question is not simply whether we are capturing or killing more terrorists than are being recruited and trained, but whether we are providing more opportunities than our enemies can destroy and whether we are addressing more grievances than they can record,” writes CSIS's Commission on Smart Power, which this week released its far-reaching assessment charting a path for the future of US foreign policy.

CSIS established the Commission on Smart Power last year, appointing Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye as co-chairs and recruiting an array of respected former government officials, diplomats, business leaders, and NGO representatives.

CSIS President John Hamre writes in the report's foreword that the Commission was tasked to address a number of questions: "How does America become the welcomed world leader for a constructive international agenda for the twenty-first century? How do we restore the full spectrum of our national power? How do we become a smart power?"

The report's authors note that America's influence is on the decline worldwide, despite its clear preponderance of hard power. But the US can not project power on the basis of its military strength alone, so the report focuses on the need to develop a greater capacity for the use of soft power as an instrument of national policy.

The tarnish on America's image--making the country no longer widely viewed as a force for positive change in the world--creates obstacles for the development of solid partnerships necessary for collective action on a range of global issues. America finds itself at a critical juncture, and in need of alliances to share the burden of global leadership.

The report advises that in order to maintain its edge in global affairs, the US "must move from eliciting fear and anger to inspiring optimism and hope."

The US must undertake measures to convince the community of nations that it invests in the global good, the report advises, and brings results to all corners of the world that might not otherwise occur in the absence of American leadership.

Specifically, the report concludes, the United States should focus on five critical areas:

* Alliances, partnerships and institutions: The United States must reinvigorate the alliances, partnerships, and institutions that serve our interests and help us to meet twenty-first century challenges.

* Global development: Elevating the role of development in U.S. foreign policy can help the United States align its own interests with the aspirations of people around the world.

* Public diplomacy: Bringing foreign populations to our side depends on building long-term, people-to-people relationships, particularly among youth.

* Economic integration: Continued engagement with the global economy is necessary for growth and prosperity, but the benefits of free trade must be expanded to include those left behind at home and abroad.

* Technology and innovation: Energy security and climate change require American leadership to help establish global consensus and develop innovative solutions.

Report of the CSIS Commission on Smart Power: 071106_csissmartpowerreport.pdf

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