The Importance of a Smart Power Approach

February 1, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

As the dust settles following yesterday’s Republican Presidential primary in Florida, it appears a decisive victory there by Governor Romney is not deterring Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum from moving west for a showdown in Nevada.  Encouraging the candidates to remember the importance of a smart power approach to foreign policy, Admiral Robert Natter from the USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council writes in today’s Florida Times Union that “America has never run from challenges, and we cannot now. That is why we need to ensure all of our tools of foreign policy — diplomacy and development, as well as defense — are ready to protect our national interests.”  

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Investing in America’s Global Leadership (Admiral Robert J. Natter, Florida Times-Union)

Republican presidential candidates are talking about our economy and national security.  My hope is they will articulate and understand how critical it is for our nation to maintain its leadership in today’s dangerous world as part of their plans for getting Americans back to work and keeping our families safe.  America has always been a beacon of hope and freedom in the world. From the global economy, to the struggle for democracy in the Arab world, to famine ravaging the Horn of Africa, our nation faces challenges as never before.   But America has never run from challenges, and we cannot now. That is why we need to ensure all of our tools of foreign policy — diplomacy and development, as well as defense — are ready to protect our national interests.

Who’s in the News

Romney pledges to defend the people of South Sudan (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Responding to a call from advocacy groups, Mitt Romney’s campaign has released a statement promising to protect “innocents” and prosecute human rights abuses by the Khartoum government in Sudan and what is now South Sudan.  “Mitt Romney recognizes that for too long far too many Sudanese have been victims of war crimes and other atrocities committed by the government in Khartoum and its proxies,” the Romney campaign said in Tuesday statement.  “Governor Romney is committed to protecting innocents from war crimes and other atrocities, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches those desperately in need, holding accountable those leaders who perpetrate atrocities, and achieving a sustainable peace for all who live in Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan,” the statement said.

Smart Power

Feeding a growing world sustainably and nutritiously (Dan Glickman, Diplomatic Courier)

Few human experiences are as universal as the need for food. Ensuring people have enough to eat is the foundation for good health and economic prosperity. Today, almost a billion people are chronically hungry and 1.5 billion are overweight or obese. As the world population grows, incomes rise, and climate shifts, there is a real risk that these rates will increase, hindering economic growth and creating conditions that foster instability.  Overcoming these challenges and securing a reliable and nutritious supply of food lays the foundation for stability and economic growth. The recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa were not just about democratic freedoms – they were about food.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Afghans fear economic downturn as foreigners withdraw (Graham Bowley, New York Times)

The anticipated withdrawal of most international forces is still two years away, but already Afghans who have depended on the decade-old foreign presence for their livelihoods are feeling tremors as the first troops leave and spending and aid money dries up. Many fear that the rumblings could be a harbinger of far worse things to come.  The withdrawal of tens of thousands of foreign troops and international aid workers — and the billions of dollars in aid they have brought to the country — has all the potential to undo the fragile progress Afghans have made under the international occupation and, some fear, even set off a new round of insecurity and civil unrest. So dependent is Afghanistan that in 2010, international assistance amounted to roughly 97 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to a commonly cited World Bank estimate.

Dianne Feinstein criticizes W.H.’s Afghanistan assessment (Josh Gerstein, Politico)

The Obama administration may be sugarcoating its public assessments of the situation in Afghanistan even as analysts privately predict a gloomy future for that country, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein argued at a hearing Tuesday.  “In Afghanistan, the surge of U.S. forces that began in ’09 has produced meaningful gains. That said, I think we’re all very concerned about what will happen in 2014 when we reduce our troop commitment and President [Hamid] Karzai’s term is up,” Feinstein, a California Democrat, said at the outset of the annual hearing on global threats to U.S. security.  Feinstein suggested that the U.S. government’s closed-door assessments of Afghanistan’s direction are far grimmer than the public picture.

At U.N., Pressure Is on Russia for Refusal to Condemn Syria (Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times)

The battle over Syria moved to the United Nations on Tuesday with Western powers and much of the Arab world confronting Russia in the Security Council over their refusal to condemn the Syrian government for its violent suppression of popular protests.  At the United Nations, the two sides skirmished over a draft Security Council resolution proposed by Morocco that calls for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to leave power as the first step of a transition toward democracy.  But behind all the arguments lurked the ghost of Libya, with Russia determined to block any resolution that might be construed as a license for regime change.  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and several other countries, argued that Libya was a “false analogy.” The plan for a gradual democratic transition “represents the best efforts of Syria’s neighbors to chart a way forward, and it deserves a chance to work,” she said.