Clinton vows to restore American leadership through "smart power"


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin)

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has started discussing the nomination of Hillary Clinton as State Secretary. Everyone agrees she is perfect for the job, but the law is the law.

She should be - and will be - approved for the post by January 20, when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th U.S. President. The Democrats have a majority in Congress and few Republicans would vote against Clinton. They are still fighting the depression of eight years of George Bush's rule and the domination of neoconservatives, the first among equals being Dick Cheney.

The Republicans know they must do something to restore Washington's prestige in the world, and so nearly everyone in the Senate accepted the premise that President Obama and State Secretary Clinton have a recipe for doing this.

The "lady in the pantsuit," as Clinton often described herself during the election campaign, has a clear preference for using "smart power" in pursuing U.S. interests abroad, a neoliberal response to the neoconservative failure.

Harvard University Professor Joseph Nye, who has been on all kinds of foreign policy think tanks and institutes, developed "the concepts of asymmetrical and complex interdependence" in the 1970s, coined the term "soft power" in a 1990 book and further developed the concept in his 2004 book.

The term has been mated with Bush's "hard power" to produce a concept of "smart power."

The idea is to charm the world and, if and when necessary, enforce the U.S. will on it by integrating military and other "hard" instruments with such "soft" elements as trade, diplomacy, economic and other assistance, and the spread of U.S. cultural and political values and lifestyle.

As Professor Nye put it, "America must learn to cooperate and listen, if it is to become a welcome world leader."

"America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America," Clinton said in a confident and businesslike appearance before her former colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

U.S. allies, who have long been using a mixture of "hard" and "soft", of diplomacy and defense, advocated this wise approach long ago. But the trouble is that when the White House approves an idea, nobody knows what it will turn out to be, a dreadnought or an icebreaker. We have seen both.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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