Laying the foundation for America’s leadership

September 8, 2010 By Andy Amsler

In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today reiterated the Obama Administration’s dedication to implementing a smart power approach to foreign affairs. The speech served as an update to Clinton’s remarks a year ago outlining the Administration’s approach to foreign policy, and contained a call for America to “lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come” through six pillars of the Obama Administration’s approach to implanting its vision:

  • Reconnecting with our Closest Allies to Strengthen Alliances
  • Investing in Developing Partners
  • Engaging Emerging Centers of Influence
  • Strengthening Regional Architecture
  • Reengaging with Global Institutions
  • Upholding and Defending Universal Values

In conclusion, Clinton calls for increased resources for America’s civilian tools of engagement, stating, “America needs the tools and capacity to do the work I’ve described.  So we are strengthening every aspect of our civilian power…Across the board, we need to rethink, reform, and recalibrate.  And in a time of tight budgets, we must ensure our resources are spent wisely.” She cites the QDDR as a means of installing efficiency, and mentions that it will be rolled out in the weeks ahead. Secretary Clinton also noted the importance of the State Department forging better relations with the Department of Defense. Along these lines, Clinton noted her continued collaboration with Secretary Gates, and again mentioned the idea of a unified National Security Budget, something she first spoke of following the release of the National Security Strategy earlier this year.

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Clinton’s statements certainly reaffirm her commitments to elevating development and diplomacy, and many of the themes she articulated in the “six pillars” approach highlight the Administration’s dedication to increased global engagement. However, how effectively these pillars will be implemented will depend on seeing real changes enacted when the QDDR and PSD are revealed later this year. The QDDR especially, having been billed as the more operations of the two studies, will be a real indicator of whether Clinton, along with her colleagues at USAID and the Department of Defense, are able to implement a smart power approach with the same enthusiasm that they have repeatedly spoken about one.