Implementing Smart Power : setting an agenda for national security

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – 24/04/08

Richard L. Armitage, President, Armitage International
Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Distinguished Service Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Mr. Chairman,

We would like to thank you and your distinguished colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the invitation to speak today on the subject of, “Implementing Smart Power: Setting an Agenda for National Security Reform.”

As you know, we are co-chairs of CSIS’s Commission on Smart Power, a bipartisan Commission that included one of your fellow Committee members, Senator Chuck Hagel, as well as Senator Jack Reed and two distinguished members of the House of Representatives. CSIS’s President and CEO John Hamre asked the two of us to form this Commission in late 2006, and the Commission released its findings on November 7, 2007. It is our privilege to sit before you today to provide our thoughts on implementing a Smart Power agenda in the months and years ahead.

Smart Power: The Big Idea
Mr. Chairman, as you know, your committee held a hearing on Smart Power in March of this year, receiving testimony from Admiral Leighton Smith and General Tony Zinni, who is also a member of our Commission. Admiral Smith and General Zinni spoke on behalf of 52 retired generals and admirals who are backing the idea of Smart Power, organized by the Center for U.S. Global Engagement. The pair did an excellent job of explaining Smart Power, so we do not want to spend too much time here on what you already know. But please allow us to briefly explain how we came to this idea.

The two of us—one Democrat and one Republican—have devoted our lives to promoting America’s preeminence as a force for good in the world. What we have seen recently, however, is that too many people around the globe are questioning America’s values, commitment, and competence.
Two decades ago, the conventional wisdom was that the United States was in decline, suffering from “imperial overstretch.” A decade later, with the end of the Cold War, the new conventional wisdom was that the world was a unipolar American hegemony. Today, we need a renewed understanding of the strength and limits of American power.

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