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Smart Power

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Smart Power is the effective and efficient combination of hard power (the power to coerce) and soft power (the power to convince), in pragmatic ways that help nations advance their international interests. Suzanne Nossel first developed the concept of Smart Power in a March, 2004 article in Foreign Affairs magazine. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., who heads the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, later picked up on the idea of smart power as a refinement of the concept of "soft power" introduced in his earlier work.

Although smart power can be applied by any country, it is mainly a term used to analyze American foreign policy, gaining more significance as America's reputation has diminished around the world.

Recent US involvement in the Middle East has shown the limits of American hard power, while the use of soft power, such as diplomacy, has been marginalized. This dilemma has forced the US to seek new ways to leverage power in a positive and effective manner to counter threats and maximize opportunities. Smart power argues that America's military and economic might and its cultural and ideological appeal should be funneled into a power that reinforces both.

Many in the US foreign policy community believe a smart power approach would reassure an uneasy American public, unite a fractious government bureaucracy, and rally the world behind U.S. objectives.


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