SMART POWER SOPHISTRY
By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev STAFF WRITER/Editor
US foreign policy mavens have plucked from obscurity and put a new spin on Smart Power concept as the cornerstone of the US National Security Strategy.
In theory and on paper, this paradigm shift is picture-perfect. In practice, if it takes seeing to believing, don’t be surprised, if much touted Smart Power turns out to be Smarting from Power.
The whole idea is not just attractive – it’s simply irresistible. As a binary ammo of US foreign policy projection, global vital interests or imperial designs (the precise definition pursuant to political preferences) the combination of Hard Power of the military and Soft Power of the diplomacy, if properly calibrated, creates dramatic synergy effect, herein presented as Smart Power – holistic, whole-of-government approach.
In reality, against the backdrop of kaleidoscopic opportunities & threats, the implementation of US foreign policy has consistently refused to square the circle that proves this pristine theorem.
The intrinsic deficiency of Smart Power is the lopsided and asymmetrical nature of this brawn & brain equation: in budgetary terms, Hard Power of the military supersedes Soft Power of the diplomacy more than 10 times and thus relegates the Foggy Bottom to the Pentagon’s ancillary outfit in charge of international public affairs.
To bridge the gap between lofty theory and miserable practice, and to make generals & diplomats genuine partners, US lawmakers ought to pare down DOD ‘irrational exuberance’ and substantially beef up the State Department ‘goodwill’ capabilities.
Only when and if Pentagon and State Department budgets are equalized to 1:1 ratio, Smart Power stands a fair chance to be truly innovative hands-on approach.
Until that breakthrough takes place, Smart Power will remain a recurrent chimera, with the White House Smarting from Power at ‘homeland’ and beyond, fomenting anti-American sentiments among the Web-savvy generation of the 21st century.