Friday, January 23, 2009

Smart Power

On a number of articles today I've read about the change in the State Department now that Hillary Clinton has taken over. Scott Horton posted she was referred to as Glinda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz compared to Condaleeza Rice being the Wicked Witch of the West. That could be those there buttering her up because they're afraid for their jobs.
Eric Kleefeld quotes Hillary as saying:
This is going to be a challenging time, and it will require 21st-century tools and solutions to meet our problems and seize our opportunities. I’m gonna be asking a lot of you, I want you to think outside the proverbial box. I want you to give me the best advice you can, I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate, and the kind of dialogue that will make us better...
But what a breath of fresh air that Hillary informed those around her she enjoys a spirited debate, and wants to hear all sides. No more toeing the party line.
She's also used the phrase "smart power." There's hard power: brute force, military action, dropping bombs, etc. And soft power: diplomacy, foreign aide, that kind of thing.
At the Huffington Post Paul Begala has gone on a rant about how the phrase smart power is so vague and meaningless that it can't be taken seriously.
Maybe he's right, but the same can be said about hard power and soft power; adjectives can be so deceptive in trying to explain the unexplainable. What I do know is that we've had eight years of dumb power. Why not let smart power have a shot?
 My definition of dumb power is using the wrong type of power for what the situation calls for. Israel's flexing it's muscles this past month is dumb power. It accomplished nothing, and maybe created more problems for the future.
Maybe the best definition of smart power is from Teddy Roosevelt: Walk softy, but carry a big stick. Neander W only knew how to use a stick.


One Fly said...

Kinda Sleazy was supposed to be very smart. HC could kick her ass in a second.

P M Prescott said...

As Petuchio says in Taming of the Shrew: "I'll bet you my Kate does lay her flat."