Saturday, September 19, 2015

Quotable: James Stavridis on smart power in the global marketplace of ideas

Friday, September 18th 2015

“We are very good at launching missiles – we must improve at launching ideas,” testified retired Admiral James Stavridis, now Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  The former NATO Supreme Allied Commander is also Co-Chair of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s National Security Advisory Council.  In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on March 26, 2015, he bluntly stated, “My message to you today is direct.  Now is the time to double down on smart power.”
The “global marketplace of ideas” is Public Diplomacy’s arena, and Public Diplomacy must place “competing ideas,” “visions of life,” “cultural initiatives,” “education,” and “ideology” at the center of our work.
I have had the unique opportunity to see both the global battlefield and the global marketplace of ideas.  There is no doubt in my military mind that we face new, unconventional security threats that will continue to test our ability to out-think our opponents and confront brutal ideologies. * * *  The United States has a very strong and capable military.  No one can match us on the sea, in the air, and in ground maneuver.  While there will continue to be a need for that hard military power, Mr. Chairman, we simply cannot lead without using other tools as well.   Competitor nations, competing ideas, challenge us with dark and repressive visions of life.
* * * * *
Let me close by commenting on one region in particular which threatens this stability, prosperity and peace: the Middle East.  And In this regard, I urge you, from my vantage point as a military commander and now as a Dean in higher education that now is a time, as I said earlier, to double down on smart power.  We need to bring the talent of this great nation, the development experts, the scholars, the diplomats together to enhance our understanding of this specific challenge.  We shouldn’t be scaling back funding.  We need to scale up funding. 
Our goal should be state-of-the-art diplomacy and development.  To do this, we need to support smart research, smart new diplomatic and cultural initiatives, working with our allies, to confront the ideology of those drawn to the fight.  We need a sophisticated grounding on this ideology, a world view so different than our own, so that our efforts, in diplomacy, development and defense, can be successful.
We need hard power in the short term of course to face the spread of the Islamic State and support our allies.  But we also need counter terrorist financing and effective intelligence.  And for the long term, we need to support educational reform, intellectual development and opportunity.
Combining hard and soft power over time: That is smart power.

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