“Led by the military, war-weary US awakens to ‘soft power'”

Another news article today, that might help to further contextualize the piece appearing below this post:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – After six hard years of war, the United States is awakening to the idea that “soft power” is a better way to regain influence and clout in a world bubbling with instability.

And nowhere is the change in thinking more advanced than in the US military, which is pushing for greater diplomacy, economic aid, civic action and civilian capabilities to prevent new wars and win the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates caught the spirit in a much praised speech at Kansas State University last month, calling for a dramatic increase in spending on civilian instruments of power.

Such an appeal would have been unthinkable not long ago, as Gates himself acknowledged, saying it was a “man bites dog” story.

“I think having stubbed our toe badly on Iraq, people are realizing that we weren’t doing that well, and it’s time for a change,” said Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor and former senior Pentagon official.

Nye popularized the term “soft power” in books and essays which argue that a key source of US clout is its ability to attract friends and allies by investing in the international good.

“Since 9/11, the United States has been exporting fear and anger rather than the more traditional values of hope and optimism,” a report by a commission Nye co-chaired with Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, warned last month. As a result, it said, “Suspicions of American power have run deep.”

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