Posts Tagged ‘Smart Power’

smart powerSticking the word "smart" in front of almost anything is a practice that must end.

As evidence, I offer the Smart Car, the worst car of the last decade, and calls for more Smart Power.

We’re all aware, of course, that our stupid cars and our stupid power just won’t cut it anymore.

What is Smart Power? It’s merely another effort to grab more mission, manpower, and money for the diplomatic corps. Just how does that make it "smart," anymore than giving $56 billion to TSA to make air travel safer (or not)?

We’ve ended up in the current State Department/Department of Defense configuration we have for a reason. If circumstances have changed, let the appropriators argue it out, but don’t besmirch logic and reality by jamming ‘smart’ in front of something that may make sense and work, or may not.

A better way to advocate for the hopes (no disrespect intended, but that’s what they are) imbedded within the Smart Power call would be instead to simply use the most correct tool for the job. (Just don’t use the terms "toolbox" or "quiver," which should also be similarly banned from the vernacular, unless talking carpentry or archery.)

 

From McPaper:

President Obama should take pride in the expected downfall of Moammar Gadhafi, the Middle East‘s longest-reigning dictator. Still, it is ironic that a president who ran on promises to revitalize diplomacy has achieved his greatest successes by embracing the military

So what really is “smart power”?  Using the military which works or using diplomacy with tools like Gadhafi, which the headline describes as “a fool’s errand”?

I’d offer “smart power” (a hideous diplo-speak bumper sticker) is really using the right tool for the job.

Related (but unanswered) “smart power” questions include: why was the U.S. part of this drill to begin with?  Why isn’t this ‘action’ covered under the War Powers Act?  What endstate are we hoping to achieve?  If Libya, why not Syria or any other number of nations/locations?

smart powerFrom National Journal regarding “smart power” and the Syrian situation. 

For months stretching back to the bloom of the Arab spring, the Obama administration has resisted explicitly calling for the ouster of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, even as the body count in his bloody crackdown on protesters mounted to nearly 2,000. As recently as Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was defending the administration’s reticence in the face of such carnage.

This, in diplo-speak, is leading from behind.  And some amplification is in order.

“It’s not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go. OK, fine. What next?” Clinton said during an appearance at the National Defense University. Only if regional heavyweights such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia join the United States and it’s [sic] international allies, she argued, would the message get Assad’s attention. “So I think this is smart power, where it’s not just about brute force, it’s not about unilateralism, it’s being smart enough to say, `You know what? We want a bunch of people singing from the same hymn book.’”

So that was Wednesday.  And it turns out as of Friday, we can now switch the knob to “smart power” and start singing from the same hymn book after all.

Today, President Obama led that hallelujah chorus, proclaiming that for the sake of the Syrian people, “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” The carefully choreographed shout down was immediately echoed by the powerhouses of Europe and the European Union, which joined the United States in promising tough new sanctions on Syria’s energy exports. The moves followed Syria’s one-time ally Turkey finally seeming to abandon the Damascus regime, and Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies recalling their ambassadors in the past week. This afternoon the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner was expected to brief the Security Council that Syria’s crackdown on protesters potentially amount to a “crime against humanity” that should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Ah, a plethora of potent polemics to plague problematic and petty politicos like Assad.  Pretty soon, we’ll have North Korea or Iran-like levels of sanctions piled up at Assad’s front door…and then?

It’s enough to force some to ask why we aren’t we bombing Syria already?