9 November, 2009 – Postcards from the Revolution
(This article was written before the collapse of the latest deal to restore President Zelaya) Henry Kissinger said that diplomacy is the ‘art of restraining power’. Obviously, the most influential ideologue on US foreign policy of the twenty first century was refering to the necessity to ‘restrain the power’ of other countries and governments in order to maintain the dominant world power of the United States.
Presidents in the style of George W. Bush employed ‘Hard Power’ to achieve this goal: weapons, bombs, threats and military invasions. Others, like Bill Clinton, used ‘Soft Power’: cultural warfare, Hollywood, ideals, diplomacy, moral authority and campaigns to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of those in enemy nations. The Obama administration has opted for a mutation of these two concepts, fusing military power with diplomacy, political and economic influence with cultural penetration and legal maneuvering. They call this ‘Smart Power.’ Its first application is the coup d’etat in Honduras, and as of today, it’s worked to perfection.
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that ‘we should use what has been called ‘smart power’, the complete range of tools that are at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural – choosing the correct tool, or combination of tools, for each situation. With ‘smart power,’ diplomacy will be the vanguard of our foreign policy.’ Clinton later reinforced this concept affirming that the ‘wisest path will be to first use persuasion.’
Continue reading →