The GOP war on 'Smart Power'
Posted by Jacob Stokes
I have a piece up at CNN.com's GPS blog entitled "The GOP war on 'Smart Power.'" Here's a quick excerpt:
On foreign policy, the platform shared by Republican candidates for president can be encapsulated in one phrase: the war on smart power.
The concept of smart power was coined in 2004 to describe the belief that trade, diplomacy, foreign aid and the spread of American values should be employed alongside military force to achieve U.S. goals in the world. It brings together a mix of soft power, the proverbial carrot, with hard power, the stick, in order to achieve aims. The concept is so basic, so elemental as to be almost cliché – it’s foreign policy 101. And yet the Republican field has dedicated itself to rejecting it.
In the first debate focused solely on foreign policy issues, Rick Perry promised to start the foreign aid budget at zero and make receiving nations re-justify their assistance every year; Mitt Romney and others agreed. That view shows a profound misunderstanding of the role aid plays in fighting America’s wars and of the miniscule proportion of the budget it consumes. Without the proper civilian trainers, nations who beat back insurgent forces find it hard to rebuild functioning societies. The U.S. has encountered this problem firsthand in Afghanistan, with tragic consequences.