Soft Power: A “Mission Critical” Component of National Security
In early March, the Biden administration released its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance—a framing document released ahead of the National Security Strategy (NSS) that serves as an early signal of U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Biden Administration. By using diplomacy and development to connect the administration’s domestic priorities to America’s foreign policy priorities, the president has clearly signaled the significant role these tools will play over the next four years.
Whether they served four years or 40 years, most military members have had an up-close look at American foreign policy during their years of service, providing them with a unique perspective on America’s global engagement in action. This perspective is so critical to America’s global leadership that we highlighted it in the second session of USGLC’s Next Gen Global Leaders program, where military veterans in the class were able to share some of their invaluable stories and perspectives from their military service.
When people think about U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF), they might envision romanticized scenes from television or the movies. But what they don’t see is what goes on behind the scenes. While SOF plays a lead role in defending our country, U.S. national security also relies on the strength and support of our civilian forces—particularly our diplomatic corps and development personnel—in countries around the world.
At the 2021 Munich Security Conference, President Biden outlined a number of foreign policy priorities during his global address—reaffirming America’s partnership with Europe, addressing emerging global threats with diplomatic solutions, and advocating American values to counter Russia and China—that also align with a bipartisan consensus on the need for U.S. global engagement to protect America’s economic, health and national security interests.
With the hope of new vaccines comes the urgent need to not only distribute them equitably around the world but to shore up global public health systems and mitigate the virus’ destabilizing global health and economic impacts to truly bring the pandemic under control. As new variations of COVID-19 spread around the globe, a growing public outcry reminds us that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and a mere two weeks after violent attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Like other Democratic and Republican presidents before him, President Biden’s Inaugural address highlighted a clear vision for the role of American leadership and engagement in the world to support “peace, prosperity, and security.”
This Veterans Day, we salute all lawmakers who have served in our nation’s military and continue to serve as members of Congress. We’re also shining a spotlight on several incoming veteran-turned lawmakers and their foreign policy views.
In his new book, Exercise of Power, Secretary Gates reflects on the successes and shortcomings of the U.S. on the global stage, and offers his perspective on a new path forward to confront today’s greatest global challenges.
The catastrophic domestic and global effects of coronavirus begs the question: why was the world so unprepared for this virus? In search of some answers, I recently spoke with Ambassador Roger Meece, former U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2004 – 2007) and Malawi (2000 – 2003) and a member of the USGLC’s Washington State Advisory Committee.
If the world learned anything from the SARS epidemic, it is that in order to counter a viral disease, a coordination of the world’s finest medical institutions and brightest minds is quintessential. As the number of confirmed cases climbs with each passing day, the WHO must act swiftly and declare the Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. While multiple U.S. officials have vowed to support Chinese efforts to combat the epidemic, and are monitoring the situation closely, the U.S. government must also consider backing up its words by funding programs dedicated to fighting global epidemics.