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Smart power is a term in international relations defined by Joseph Nye as "the ability to combine hard and soft power into a winning strategy."[1][2] According to Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela R. Aall, smart power "involves the strategic use of diplomacy, persuasion, capacity building, and the projection of power and influence in ways that are cost-effective and have political and social legitimacy" – essentially the engagement of both military force and all forms of diplomacy.[3]

The term, invented in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, comes as a reaction to George W. Bush's more neoconservative-driven foreign policy.[4] Viewed as a liberal alternative to such policy, its proponents prefer international institutions that provide a major role, as opposed to solo role, to the United States.[4] Smart power has also been viewed as an alternative for soft power because the latter can reinforce stereotypes of Democratic politicians being perceived as weak.[5][6] According to Foreign Policy, there is a debate on who should be credited for coining the term, though it found the most likely candidate to be Suzanne Nossel, who in 2004 wrote an article entitled "Smart Power" in Foreign Affairs.[7] Earlier in 2004, Nye referred to "smart power" in his book Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. The term also figures in the title of a 2008 book by Ted Galen Carpenter, Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America.[8]

Clinton usage

The term gained notice when New York Senator Hillary Clinton used it frequently during her Senate confirmation hearing on January 13, 2009, for the position of Secretary of State under the administration of President Barack Obama.[9]

We must use what has been called smart power — the full range of tools at our disposal — diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural — picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.
Hillary Clinton[10]

Nossel said she was impressed by Clinton's performance, declaring that "She'll make smart power cool".[11] Two branding experts interviewed by Fox News criticized the slogan, but several scholars, including Nye, were supportive.[12]

Clinton's view contrasts with Condoleezza Rice's strategy of Transformational Diplomacy.

See also


  1. ^ Nye Jr., Joseph S. (2006-08-19). "In Mideast, the goal is 'smart power'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  2. ^ Nye, along with Richard Armitage chaired a commission for the Center for Strategic and International Studies entitled the CSIS Commission on Smart Power. See their project and report
  3. ^ Crocker, Chester A,; Hampson, Fen Osler; Aall, Pamela R. (2007). Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World. US Institute of Peace Press. p. 13. ISBN 9781929223978.  
  4. ^ a b "What is Hillary Clinton's 'smart power'?". The Times. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  5. ^ Benen, Steve (2009-01-13). "SMART POWER". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  6. ^ Goldenberg, Ilan (2008-05-29). "It's Time to Stop Talking About Soft Power". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  7. ^ "The origins of "Smart Power"". Foreign Policy. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-15.  
  8. ^ Carpenter, Ted Galen (2008). Smart power: toward a prudent foreign policy for America. Cato Institute. ISBN 9781933995168.  
  9. ^ The total number of times it was used by Clinton was 4 for the opening statement and 9 for the actual Senate hearing.
    Etheridge, Eric (2009-01-14). "How ‘Soft Power’ Got ‘Smart’". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  10. ^ "Clinton: Use "Smart Power" In Diplomacy". CBS News. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-29.  
  11. ^ Hertzberg, Hendrik (2009-01-26). "Smart Power". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  12. ^ Clark, Stephen (2009-01-22). "Clinton's 'Smart Power' Slogan Is Just Plain Dumb, Branding Experts Say". Fox News. Retrieved 2009-09-11.  


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