News / USA

Clinton: US Will Apply Power Differently

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 27 May 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 27 May 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States needs to apply its global power in different ways, and cannot have a "militarized model of diplomacy". She spoke as the Obama administration unveiled a new national security doctrine putting diplomacy and development on an equal footing with the use of military force.

The outlines of the new national security policy, which Secretary Clinton has described as smart power, have been clear for some time. But the administration paper, produced under a mandate from Congress, is the first time the approach has been formulated in a single document.

The Obama White House has sought to distance itself from the strategy of its predecessor, the Bush administration, which stressed a right to pre-emptive military action against countries and non-state actors deemed threats to U.S. security in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Obama administration policy paper renews the Bush commitment to preserve U.S. military superiority but also stresses diplomatic engagement and coalition-building to achieve policy goals.

Clinton, in a roll-out event for the policy statement at Washington's Brookings Institution, said the United States must balance and integrate all elements of it global power.

"We are no less powerful, but we need to apply our power in different ways," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We are shifting from mostly direct exercise and application of power to a more sophisticated and difficult mix of indirect power and influence. So smart power is not just a slogan, it actually means something."

The Secretary said American policy interests are advanced by promoting U.S. core values including democracy and women's empowerment. She said the U.S. military itself, examining its experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, has come to realize the limits of the use of force.

"One of the mistakes that the military itself believed had been made in the prior administration is that we militarized America's presence in these difficult conflict areas," she said. "And there are a lot of good reasons why that had to be done in the first instance. But we cannot have a militarized model of diplomacy and development and expect to be successful in making our case on all these other issues that we engage with governments on."

The Obama administration document also stresses the link between America's economic health and its stature overseas. Clinton told the Brookings audience the United States cannot sustain current levels of debt and deficits without losing influence and decision-making options.

"This is a high priority for this administration," said Hillary Clinton. "You'll see it reflected in its national security strategy. And we want to try to begin, with the publication of this strategy, to make the national security case about reducing the deficit and getting the debt under control, recognizing that it is going to be very, very, politically-challenging."

The policy statement called a healthy economy the wellspring of American power. It also repeated the U.S.goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida, but in the process upholding and promoting human rights.

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