Steny Hoyer Argues for Smart Power

June 28, 2010 By Martine Kaplan

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International studies today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer outlined a smart power approach to national security, one that goes beyond military strength and is also rooted development and democracy. According to Hoyer, “arms alone will not win wars – particularly against an enemy that we will rarely, if ever, meet on a battlefield. Nations win wars.” To that end, he stressed a commitment to international development. Hoyer cited a lack of opportunity as one of the factors driving recruits to extremism: “Chronic oppression of women and girls condemns nations to poverty and abandons young men to extremist ideologies.”

The Majority Leader explained how development is not just for the benefit of the recipients of our aid – it serves our moral and economic interests, eliminating threats to our own country.  In a strong reflection of our global leadership, the Obama administration is partnering with other donor countries and the private sector on new food security and global health initiatives, as well as investing in the empowerment of women and girls. He noted that such efforts will be bolstered by strong standards for accountability and against corruption in recipient countries.

Also key to Hoyer’s approach is a commitment to promoting democracy and human rights in a way that maintains our values. If we fail to lead by example and stay true to our character as a nation, Hoyer says, “we make our principles hollow in the eyes of the world, and we throw away one of the best weapons we have.”

You can view the rest of his speech here and read his full remarks here.