September 7, 2011 / 11:08 AM / 8 years ago

Factbox: U.S. leaders on "Smart Power" and foreign aid

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s pledge to boost America’s global standing by ramping up U.S. diplomacy and development aid faces an uncertain future as lawmakers cut U.S. spending to address budget shortfalls.

Following are comments from U.S. leaders on the administration’s strategy, which was dubbed “smart power” and aimed at reversing what critics perceived as the over-militarization of U.S. engagement abroad.


“I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted. 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. This is not a radical idea. The ancient Roman poet Terence, who was born a slave and rose to become one of the great voices of his time, declared that “in every endeavor, the seemly course for wise men is to try persuasion first.” The same truth binds wise women as well.”

- speaking at her confirmation hearing in January 2009


“As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy ... I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce anarchy.”

- speaking as a candidate in August 2007 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.”

- speaking at his inauguration in January 2009.


“What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security — diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development ... We must focus our energies beyond the guns and steel of the military, beyond just our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. We must also focus our energies on the other elements of national power that will be so crucial in the coming years.”

“In short, based on my experience serving seven presidents, as a former Director of the CIA and now as Secretary of Defense, I am here to make the case for strengthening our capacity to use ‘soft’ power and for better integrating it with ‘hard’ power.”

- speaking in Manhattan, Kansas in November 2007


“I know this is a time of great economic strain for so many Americans. For every dollar we invest, we must show results ... The United States must be able to exercise global leadership to respond to crosscurrents of a complex world. This requires the effective use of all instruments of our national security — including development.

“In many cases, the balance between a future filled with fear and a future filled with hope is fragile. Every day, USAID tips the scale toward hope and opportunity.”

— in testimony to House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 2010

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