NOPE, NOTHING SMART ABOUT IT: Hillary’s ‘Smart’ Power

Published on December 8, 2014

by Andrew Allen
Clash Daily Contributor

If there’s one thing that’s certain, when a Clinton makes a comment it’s not an off-the-cuff kind of thing. It’s rehearsed. Deliberate. Choreographed. Likely focus group tested. And it is designed to accomplish something. So it is with Hillary Clinton’s “smart power” notion.

She’s no stranger to the term. Joseph Nye, an Assistant Secretary of Defense under her husband’s Presidency, developed the concept and has written extensively about it. However, the smart power he and others envision isn’t a one for one match with what Hillary Clinton talked about.

Smart power involves the application of both kinetic, lethal military action as well as efforts to win hearts and minds in war zones. During Bill Clinton’s administration, it involved nation building and commitment of US forces to various places – the Balkans, Haiti to name two – for enforcing the peace and humanitarian reasons. In many ways, it informed the Bush strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan – apply force as necessary but at the same time provide local populations with things they need to give them a stable environment from which peace might be possible. Such an application of military resources is quite a bit different from what’s gone on under Barack Obama for the past six years. Under Obama, military force has been used piecemeal and often in a reactionary mode.

That then is the first part of Hillary’s smart power. In venturing forth with her vision of what smart power should look like, she’s attempting to drive a course as distant as possible from the example of her husband and Bush, while spearing more decisive and engaged than the current incumbent. In other words, she’s staking out foreign policy turf. Thing is, the particular section of turf she’s taking is of the Dennis Kucinich far left.

To make it palpable, it’s important for her to hijack and redefine smart power itself. Smart power, as traditionally defined, is a policy favored by the centrist think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Dropping bombs and rebuilding communities for better or worse is well established. If Hillary is to sell her view of foreign policy she must steal the term smart power from the center and make it apply to her far left point of view.

“Empathizing” and trying to “understand” how and why our adversaries think and behave the way they do has nothing to do with application of hard military power. Given the nature of our current adversary, it’s evident no degree of empathy will lessen their level of barbarism. And contrary to Hillary’s thought process, we aren’t at war because of some grave misunderstanding between east and west. It’s much simpler than that. They want to subjugate us and, if they can’t do that, they want to kill us, hence they wage war against us.

Hillary’s smart power ignores their war against us, which is an ignorant mistake. It’s as ignorant as the current incumbent’s notion that we could simply leave Iraq and Afghanistan and war would stop. Warfare involves two parties; it doesn’t stop just because one party to the conflict decides to stop fighting. We’ve seen over the past six years where unwillingness to understand that have taken our world. To follow that with four years of Hillary’s “smart power” would only serve to make Earth a more dangerous place than it already is.


Andrew Allen (Dunn)Andrew Allen grew up in the American southeast and for more than two decades has worked as an information technologies professional in Washington DC, southern California, and abroad variously in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. A former far-left activist, Allen became a
conservative in the late 1990s, once emboldened to begin questioning his own leftist points of view. When not working IT issues or traveling Andrew Allen spends his free time with family, exercising, and writing.