9/11 and America’s Soft Power

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At the heart of the post-11 September world disintegrate several critical issues surrounding US power: its unprecedented primacy, the way in which it is exercised, and how it is perceived and received around the world. These trends will, in the longer term, constrain US hegemonic power by limiting the effectiveness of foreign and security policies. The devastating attacks and their aftermath have replenished Washington’s focus on the importance of reaching out to foreign audiences, particularly within the Muslim world, in order to develop support for U. S. values and policies.

During the Cold War, U. S. olicymakers understood the importance of the tools of public and cultural diplomacy in foreign policy. President Ronald Reagan defined public diplomacy as “Those actions of the U. S. government designed to generate support for U. S. national security objectives. (Pilon, 220)”. After 9/11, it seemed that US power was severely damaged, at least in the sense of the key purpose of military power to provide adequate protection to the civilian population. At the same time, the soft power of the US appeared to reach a new climax with the high levels of harmony with America all over the world following 9/11.

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This depicts liberal hope about the decline in the efficacy of hard military power in a globalizing world, increasing soft power in favor of the US control in world affairs. While strategic communication is a significant facet in influencing foreign populations’ opinions of America and to assert its “soft” power, it is equally important to promote bottomless and more apparent diplomatic, anti-terrorism engagement and sustainable development assistance programs in international level.

Shortly after 9/11, it became clear that merging the United States Information Agency (USIA) into the State Department in 1999 had damaged overall U. S. public diplomacy efforts by cutting valuable resources for programs and undervaluing the mission of public diplomacy in supporting U. S. national security objectives. The Bush Administration has sought to address the shortcomings of U. S. public diplomacy over the last five-and-a-half years, with some positive results. However, much work lies ahead. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it well: Moreover, this war cannot be won by arms alone; “soft” power matters.

In these ways, our current struggle resembles the Cold War. As with the Cold War, we must respond globally. As with the Cold War, ideas matter as much as armaments. And as with the Cold War, this war requires our patience and resolve. There are various types of agencies that are established to strengthen the soft power of America. The Departments of Defense (DOD), the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the USCIRF (U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom), UN (United Nations), TEL (Terrorist Exclusion List).

These agencies are primarily focused on their missions and goals relating to areas such as traditional diplomacy (exercising diplomatic relations with other countries and international organizations), public diplomacy (engaging, informing, and influencing key international audiences), intelligence collection, counterterrorism (including terrorist financing), economic and humanitarian assistance, and governance (including democracy and human rights). Hence, these agencies are the mere portions of US government that are so formed to establish peace and security in the world and to strengthen the diplomatic relation among the countries.

Among the agencies, the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has become more involved in public diplomacy since the 9/11 Commission reported to Congress that some of the largest recipients of U. S. foreign aid had very strong anti-American sentiment among their populations. Establishing a State–USAID Policy Council and a Public Diplomacy Working Group has helped USAID to establish closer ties with the Department of State to publicize America’s humanitarian and development aid initiatives (Curtis, 2).

Moreover, Funding for public diplomacy is increasing so as to create various opportunities for endeavors to boost their career and serve their nation with these benefits. The State Department requested almost $1 billion for public diplomacy efforts around the world for fiscal year 2008 and increased public diplomacy spending in the last two years in key regions like the Middle East by 25 percent and South Asia nearly 40 percent.

It also created the Global Cultural Initiative last year to coordinate all government-backed art, music, and literature programs abroad and increased the number of participants in State Department educational and cultural programs to nearly 39,000 in this year 2009 (Curtis, 4). International terrorism has long been recognized as a foreign and domestic security threat. The tragic events of September 11 in New York, the Washington, D. C. , area, and Pennsylvania have ramatically re-energized the nation’s focus and resolve on terrorism. During the last eight years key administration officials, particularly President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have repeatedly emphasized that their long-term objective is the destruction of terrorism – a goal to be achieved by the death or apprehension of terrorists, the destruction of their infrastructure and support base, and retaliation against states that aid or harbor terrorists.

The stated objectives of the war on terrorism are to protect the citizens of the US and allies, to protect the business interests of the US and allies at home and abroad, break up terrorist cells in the US and in foreign nations, and interrupt the activities of the international network of terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Terrorism, however, was hardly ignored in previous administrations. In fact, at the beginning of the Reagan administration, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that opposition to terrorism would replace the Carter administration’s focus on advancing human rights throughout the world.

Terrorism has been the subject of numerous presidential and Defense Department directives as well as executive orders. Terrorist groups and terrorist acts have been the focus of reports by both executive branch agencies (for example, the State Department, CIA, and FBI) as well as Congressional bodies – including the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Congressional Research Service. The General Accounting Office has also produced several dozen reports evaluating the U. S. government’s ability to prevent or mitigate terrorist strikes in forth coming future (Singer, 144). Pilon, Juliana Geran (2007). Why America Is Such a Hard Sell: Beyond Pride and Prejudice Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Curtis, Lisa A. (2007). America’s Image Abroad: Room for Improvement. Washington DC, Heritage Foundation Inc. Singer, P. (2004). The War on Terrorism: The Big Picture (Review). Parameters: US Army War College

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