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Old 10-14-2009   #1
J. Robert DuBois
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Default Applied Smart Power by a SEAL

(Moderator added comment: Introductory remarks were on the Hail & Farewell thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8667).

My long-winded introduction is really just to set the stage for my own personal crusade, which is to help communicate the fundamentals of Smart Power at the interpersonal level. Having spent most of my professional life immersed in cultures other than my own (thanks to an incredibly strong and patient wife!), I've experienced countless incidents in which conflict was avoidable or avoided by improved understanding between parties. The members of this council, above most other groups, must be aware of the tragic consequences when innocent lives are tangled up in violent hatreds.

At the same time, we all have to respect the periodic requirement for "necessary violence" (i.e., in response to a suicide bomber's approach to an entry control point).

I write two blogs and a hardcopy column on this important topic. (Those are ConflictInContext.org and PowerfulPeace.net - I'll try to link the column to my profile. Note that the latter is published as "Jack Oatmon".) I'm also writing a book, similarly titled "Powerful Peace", in hopes of reaching readers across the spectrum to "subvert" excess reliance on force. It will be a sort of global hearts-and-minds campaign, intended to leverage the proactive engagement of citizens in the US and beyond.

Okay. With that out of the way...let the opinion attacks begin.

Last edited by SWCAdmin; 11-14-2009 at 12:29 PM. Reason: adjust thread title
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Old 10-14-2009   #2
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Default Soft Power by a SEAL

But why should "the opinion attacks begin" ?
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Old 10-14-2009   #3
J. Robert DuBois
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Default Thanks, JMM99

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
But why should "the opinion attacks begin" ?
Believe me, I'd be plenty happy not to face heavy fire with my very first posting, but I've encountered resistance to Smart Power as being too "touchy-feely". Folks sometimes assume it's an expression of weak passivity, rather than a disciplined focus on balancing hard and soft influence.

Interestingly, most detractors tend to come from outside the SOF world, while my SEAL colleagues and their Army counterparts generally "get it". Similarly, this Small Wars assembly may also be more receptive to the concepts.
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Old 10-14-2009   #4
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Default I confess ....

I didn't get into your blogs for content. Since the post contained nothing exceptionable, I didn't see the controversy. So, in a few bullet points, what is "Smart Power" ?
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Old 10-14-2009   #5
J. Robert DuBois
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Default "Applied" Smart Power

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I didn't get into your blogs for content. Since the post contained nothing exceptionable, I didn't see the controversy. So, in a few bullet points, what is "Smart Power" ?
"Smart power" is a term used in a 2004 Foreign Affairs article by Suzanne Nossel.

She was defining in one phrase a necessary blending of two concepts originally contrasted by Prof. Joseph Nye in the early 1990's. Hillary Clinton (and please note that I'm deliberately apolitical with these references) used the words "smart power" ten times during her confirmation as Sec State. Here is her definition:

"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."

Nye first coined the term "soft power" in order to describe a tool he believed the US government had traditionally under-utilized: capitalizing on our natural resource of attraction for other cultures, e.g., Japanese fascination with Elvis, bobby socks and baseball.

He explained that we as an institution tend to lean too habitually on "hard power", or the power of coercion. This doesn't mean only a threat of military force, but also other methods of influencing by force such as economic rewarding/withholding or direct manipulation of foreign domestic affairs (look at the long-term results of our early efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan).

So - smart power was defined in the early 2000's as an effective blending of hard power with the soft power defined in the early 1990's.

Among international experts, as you know, there are huge differences of opinion as to how much the super-powered US government should accommodate the desires or demands of less powerful nations.

Where my work modifies this existing controversy even further is in the assertion that it is possible to reach individuals and groups of individuals at a much lower level and leverage large enough portions of influenced populations to upwardly or outwardly influence local systems like government or terrorism.

To sum up, I emphasize that because conflict is often based in large part on misunderstanding and ignorance, and that because innocents are harmed in such flare-ups of "unnecessary violence", there is a direct burden of peacemaking on those of us who can recognize both the vicious cycle and effective injection points at a much lower and more practical level than traditional statecraft.

It comes down to people first, and genuine humility on our part to ever accomplish real progress. The Brigadier who served as Iraqi liaison officer to MNC-I told me, "We need to be trusted. My men cannot trust the Americans when they can't feel any trust in the first place."
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Old 10-14-2009   #6
William F. Owen
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"
He explained that we as an institution tend to lean too habitually on "hard power", or the power of coercion. This doesn't mean only a threat of military force, but also other methods of influencing by force such as economic rewarding/withholding or direct manipulation of foreign domestic affairs (look at the long-term results of our early efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan).
When did normal everyday diplomacy become "smart power"? The instruments of state craft are Diplomacy and Strategy, are they not?

I think we need a bit more 15th-16th Century Venice and Milan, and lot less new words and terms to describe things we have done for 1,000's of years.
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Old 10-14-2009   #7
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
When did normal everyday diplomacy become "smart power"? The instruments of state craft are Diplomacy and Strategy, are they not?

I think we need a bit more 15th-16th Century Venice and Milan, and lot less new words and terms to describe things we have done for 1,000's of years.
That would be opinion attack number one

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Old 10-14-2009   #8
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Default Smart Power is what again?

First off welcome to the council, now put up your dukes

I occassionally agree with Wilf against my better judgment and this is one of those times. Smart power is a concept that basically states we should do things smartly instead of being stupid. I agree, but I hope that isn't new.

As for employing all the elements of national power, when haven't we? I can't think of any conflict where we only employed one so called tool?

I thought our tax dollars paid SEALs to lift big weights, swim long distances, and blow things up, now you're confusing me with this smart power stuff....
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Old 10-14-2009   #9
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That would be opinion attack number one
Good point Tom. I am forgetting my manners....

SEAL Chap. Welcome to the council. When did normal everyday diplomacy become "smart power"?
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 10-14-2009   #10
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Default Soft Power on this end of the world

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"Smart power" ...
Rob, Welcome Aboard !

I intentionally will refrain from using Smart and State in the same paragraph

I however really enjoyed the Finnish Institute's use of the term Soft Power regarding Russia's resurgence:
Quote:
money, media, alliance with the Orthodox church, and even energy


Wonder what SecState thinks of that order of precedence ?

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Old 10-14-2009   #11
M-A Lagrange
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Hello, welcome,

So now that we have define smart power or agree that everyody disagree on smart power, can we define "stupid power". May be we will have an agreement on what is not smart and what is power.
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Old 10-14-2009   #12
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Default DB, your salient point ...

is this ?

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Where my work modifies this existing controversy even further is in the assertion that it is possible to reach individuals and groups of individuals at a much lower level and leverage large enough portions of influenced populations to upwardly or outwardly influence local systems like government or terrorism.
This sounds like Saul Alinsky, who has some students here as to his methodology. In any event, you are clearly not talking about state to state diplomacy and application of "soft power", etc., at that level. Are you basically starting at the tactical level of the "Political Struggle"[*] ?

-----------------------
[*] Basically looking at war (organized violence) as being composed of two reciprocal factors: the Military Struggle and the Political Stuggle. As the intensity of the Military Struggle increases, there is less room for the Political Struggle. Conversely as the Military Struggle winds down, the Political Struggle can intensify ("clear, hold and build" would be one example, imperfect as the "build" part might be in any given case).

An open question in my mind is whether intensification of the Political Struggle can de-intensify the Military Struggle. Advocates of Peace Enforcement (Chap 7 of the UN Charter) and "Robust Peacekeeping" (Chap 6-3/4 of the UN Charter) seem to think so.

As I am using the term "Political Struggle", it is a very broad term covering all of the non-military means used in an armed conflict. It has nothing to do with war as a continuation of politics or policy (Politik, as used by CvC) by use of other means, except that both the Military Struggle and the Political Struggle have to have the same end state as determined by Politik.

There is a natural tendency to first go to the Military Struggle (after all, folks are shooting at you or trying to blow you up) - as to which SWC has many experts (not JMM). Since I fit into the "soft side" of the reciprocal equation (the Political Struggle), I tend to look at that more than the other.
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Old 10-14-2009   #13
J. Robert DuBois
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Good point Tom. I am forgetting my manners....

SEAL Chap. Welcome to the council. When did normal everyday diplomacy become "smart power"?
This is great! An outpouring of love and affection to really make me feel at home. Please forgive my delayed re-entry - I'm en route Afghanistan and access is limited.

As I mentioned at the start, what I'm talking about will raise some hackles about touchy-feely or wishful idealism. Unfortunately, we'll also always have an element of miscommunication in play, and I have to constantly check my message first to reduce the amount I inadvertently create.

Several of you are indisputably spot on, stating that effectively balancing diplomacy and force (or "soft" and "hard") are ancient pillars of international influence and don't benefit from a new catchphrase. I want to publicly announce that I'm not educated or qualified to discuss that level beyond casual speculation.

Where I confused the matter is in emphasizing that international aspect, compared to my actual focus on the inter-personal. I'm borrowing from Nye, Nossel and Clinton because their macro expression structurally reflects my micro view.

JMM, you really got closest to what I should have said, with your reference to Saul Alinsky (my first hearing of him - I'll look him up), and where my point gets still more specific than his "political struggle" is that I'm looking down at a still lower level.

Picture the soccer balls and medicines distributed to little smiling Iraqi kids, with their smiling parents looking on. Picture in contrast a personal security detachment roaring through Baghdad, terrifying those same kids and tearing the rearview mirrors off their parents' cars. Each scenario creates a powerful impression among observers. We need to more persistently measure our message, conscious and otherwise, and work to make un-ugly Americanism a natural state.

Do we have to move aggressively in threat situations? Absolutely. Do we (Sgt Smith, or Cpt Jones) frequently overdo this aggression to a lesser or greater degree for a variety of personal or unit reasons? I say yes. This is the crux.

I've spent more years away from my wife and children than I've lived with them. I've sat in the sand and the mud of a dozen nations, sharing meals from a communal pot, and enjoyed the five-star accommodations of a dozen more. I watched the Islamic fundamentalist attacks of 9/11 live over satellite television, while living overseas with Islamic special forces on an extended training mission.

This personal contact with regular people across the globe makes it painfully clear that government-to-government relations are sometimes in perfect disharmony with the actual will of those citizens. I'm not trying to manipulate the will of states and heads of states, here...merely pointing out that like any great leader, if we recognize unique human talents and interests, we can co-opt the willing energy of human resources worldwide. We can leverage these individually to reduce conflict and better protect those in need.

I know this discussion will stretch on, and I am very grateful to all of you who have chimed in with support or, especially, challenge. My primary tool will have to be anecdotal evidence, because our sharing about a little boy with a melted face in Uzbekistan, or an older, retarded child sprawled pathetically in a baby carriage by his begging grandmother, can tear through an academic exercise and focus the heart of each good man or woman on a solvable problem.

For me, it's exactly about those innocent children on every continent, their needless suffering at the apathetic whim of state-to-state maneuvering, and their mind-blowing potential if offered appropriate opportunity. If only one of them is released to share his God-given talents with the world because of my efforts...my life will make a lot of sense.

One more thing - should I move to a new string and stop clogging up this H&F bin? I'm not familiar with the protocols.

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Old 10-14-2009   #14
M-A Lagrange
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Well a guy who watched 9/11 overseas in an islamic republic cannot be that bad. I heard about it around September 15 and could watch it on TV in December my self.
So sorry to have been sarcastic.

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Picture the soccer balls and medicines distributed to little smiling Iraqi kids, with their smiling parents looking on. Picture in contrast a personal security detachment roaring through Baghdad, terrifying those same kids and tearing the rearview mirrors off their parents' cars. Each scenario creates a powerful impression among observers. We need to more persistently measure our message, conscious and otherwise, and work to make un-ugly Americanism a natural state.
I would 200% agree with that and not only for USA.
But I will also warn you about the effect of a soldier distributing soccer balls and medecine to population and believing this has no bad effects.
I, myself, believe in the none mixing of activities between military and civilian action in war zones. Does not mean that civilian action cannot support a military objective. But I believe that military trying to carry civilian actions in war zones is as bad as civilians trying to conduct military operations. Each of us have his area of expertise and sometime it can be melte but keeping the apparences of separation does help both sides.
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Old 10-14-2009   #15
J. Robert DuBois
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I would 200% agree with that and not only for USA.
But I will also warn you about the effect of a soldier distributing soccer balls and medecine to population and believing this has no bad effects.... Does not mean that civilian action cannot support a military objective. But I believe that military trying to carry civilian actions in war zones is as bad as civilians trying to conduct military operations. Each of us have his area of expertise and sometime it can be melte but keeping the apparences of separation does help both sides.
M-A,

Thank you for your insight. I agree that healthy boundaries between civil and military actors are very important. If professional soldiers become distracted by playing with children, then no one's keeping watch while the bad men approach and everyone loses.

I think an important question is whether we have anything at all precisely resembling a "war zone" between OIF and OEF. In both Iraq, where I spent thirteen months over 2008-2009, and Afghanistan, where I am settling in for a spell, there are no battle lines - only geographic and societal blobs that are less bad and more bad from our various perspectives.

Within those blobs, there are hundreds of thousands of human beings who are in no way involved in taking up arms against "our" side. Each one of them requires some food, some clean water, some adequate shelter...and yet there are others who are actively engaged in killing as many outsiders as possible.

With this scenario in place, the situation obviously demands that we maintain both military and development units in the theater. A simple abandonment of the population's needs will inevitably result in increased hostility toward us. That's the practical application of my "Applied Smart Power" - it is in my own best interest to look out for the interests of those around me. If altruism seems a little too ambiguous, we at least have self interest to fall back on.

What should also be obvious, but isn't effectively put into practice, is the desperate need for unified coordination of all elements with some stake in the game, not just military commanders and civilian chiefs running independent operations according to their very capable, but un-coordinated judgment. Such ops almost always have some detrimental overlap to the best interests of other efforts.
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Old 10-14-2009   #16
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What should also be obvious, but isn't effectively put into practice, is the desperate need for unified coordination of all elements with some stake in the game, not just military commanders and civilian chiefs running independent operations according to their very capable, but un-coordinated judgment. Such ops almost always have some detrimental overlap to the best interests of other efforts.
How to tell you that I do agree.
The funniest in the story is that I am one of those relief workers and my personal life looks just like yours: mud and dirty places in forgotten war zones with less than few weeks at home with my family... THhs just to point out that relief workers and militay have most of the time the same ####ty family life at the end. Therefore boundaries are even thiner than we think.

What you are pointing out is exactly what I would like to see/to be. The main problem is that there is a feeling of being absorbed by the humanitarian community from the military and a feeling of being absorbed by the military by the humanitarian community. Which I believe both true and an opportunity for both.

The real question is who stays in command. And the main blocage does not come from the military but from the humanitarian community. It is "stupid" because humanitarian agencies are having political goals and agenda and are bound to political civilian leaders. But the romantic understanding of humanitarism being independant is still strong while the practical implementation of humanitarism is 200% political. And that is why I stand on a moral approach of war.

I also believe that the fact that humanitarism is based on moral values is somehow scary for soldiers or military bodies. But war is a deep desagreement settled through violence between respectable gents. Or should be. starting from there, humanitarism is just making there to remind the boundaries of respectability (humanity?) and patch the disagreement of that way of settling issues.

Quote:
I think an important question is whether we have anything at all precisely resembling a "war zone" between OIF and OEF. In both Iraq, where I spent thirteen months over 2008-2009, and Afghanistan, where I am settling in for a spell, there are no battle lines - only geographic and societal blobs that are less bad and more bad from our various perspectives.
Well, looking at history shows that the frontline and clearly define war zone is a myth. I never worked in a place where you have A war zone and A nonwar zone. The only example to tell I am wrong that comes streight to my mind is the WWI. But wars are no more conducted that way.
In somehow, we are all rediscovering the weel and it is mostly because the capacity of relief societies to enter in the very heart of the war has increased. What happend in Swat Valley show also that we are trying to go reverse. But unfortunatly, it is impossible to empty a whole country from its population. And should not be done. That is why, according to me, soldiers have to benefit from the increase of humanitarian laws and concerns. But most look at it as more limits.

Good luck in Afghanistan.
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Old 10-14-2009   #17
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Default Saul Alinsky

Some quick refs. His Wiki. His Playboy interview (just before he died in 1972). His last book, Rules for Radicals.

Ms Clinton (when she was Ms Rodham in 1969) wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky and his methodology. Her conclusion was that ground-up organizing was too slow - and opted for the larger governmental approach.

While Alinsky was a Marxist, his methodology has value (but is not The Bible) in any type of ground-up organizing, even for those of, say, a center-right political bent (e.g., JMM). So, also a lot of Lenin, Mao and Giap re: the Political Struggle and the Military Struggle, which have to be on the same page in order to reach an acceptable (note, I said acceptable) end state.

There must be dozens of existing threads here at SWC which address the concepts of "Smart Power" at its basic level (down to the people and villages). And, COL Jones has yet to chime in on the subject.

Best to all

Mike
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Old 10-14-2009   #18
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Default Thanks to Mike and M-A...

...This is such an excellent discussion. You two and others are bringing a lot of valuable perspective and information. (You can be sure, though, that I'll be extremely wary about flavoring my Applied Smart Power for conflict reduction with references to a published Marxist! As Paul and John sang, "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, ain't nobody gonna listen to you anyhow.")

As a new guy, I still feel bad for tying up our Hail & Farewell bin - is there a moderator or tech wizard who could export the whole thing to another section? Alternatively, would a veteran recommend I open a new thread to pick up the conversation?

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Old 10-14-2009   #19
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Default Soft Power by a SEAL

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Old 10-14-2009   #20
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As Paul and John sang, "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, ain't nobody gonna listen to you anyhow.")
What...... somebody say Paul...John.....The Beatles.....Revolution Live version

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imb4tYOk8GE
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