"soft Power" Power

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DECEMBER 2, 2008

"soft Power" Power

Now Michael Chertoff catches the fever:

The Bush administration's point man in protecting America against
terrorism says U.S. investments in safety should not be restricted to
airport screening machines or border fences. Michael Chertoff says the
U.S. also should spend more on foreign-aid programs, scholarships for
foreign students and other tools of so-called soft power.

The
idea isn't new, but the messenger is. Mr. Chertoff, secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security since February 2005, heads an agency
known for its crackdowns on immigration and the ratcheting-up of
passenger screening at airports....

Mr. Chertoff said he came to his views over the past six months or
so, when he finally had time to think about big-picture challenges.
Now, he said, "a lasting victory in the safeguarding of the country"
can be achieved only by marrying traditional security with winning "a
contest of ideas, and a battle for the allegiance of men and women
around the world."

It is a case that President George W. Bush's critics have pressed
for years, although Mr. Chertoff is careful not to criticize his boss.
The term "soft power" was coined and popularized in the 1990s by one
such critic, Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who is among the nation's
pre-eminent liberal thinkers on foreign policy.

--Michael Crowley

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