Chris Van Es

Obama’s Tightrope

Balancing hard-power relations with governments with soft-power support for democracy is like walking a tightrope. The Obama administration has wobbled in this balancing act, but thus far it has not fallen off.

CAMBRIDGE – According to a United States State Department official, the concept of “smart power” – the intelligent integration and networking of diplomacy, defense, development, and other tools of so-called “hard” and “soft” power – is at the heart of the Obama administration’s foreign-policy vision. Currently, however, Obama’s smart-power strategy is facing a stiff challenge from events in the Middle East.

If Obama fails to support the governments in Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, he may jeopardize important foreign-policy goals such as Middle East peace, a naval base in the Persian gulf, stability in oil markets, or cooperation against Al Qaeda terrorists. On the other hand, if he merely supports such governments, he will antagonize those countries’ new information-empowered civil society, thus jeopardizing longer-term stability.

Balancing hard-power relations with governments with soft-power support for democracy is like walking a tightrope. The Obama administration has wobbled in this balancing act, but thus far it has not fallen off.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/obaUEUv;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.