International Relations Discussion Response

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Two forum responses with works cited. Please be impartial. International relations is the topic.

Forum Post 1:

Define the meaning of soft power and how it influences military operations. How can the military use soft power to advance national security interests”?

I will start here by saying soft power all by itself is “no power”. You have to possess the ability to ramp it up, be effective and in essence have the stomach to destroy something or somebody. If you have that ability and will to use it, then you certainly can use soft power effectively.

The State Department wants to apply soft power, while of course the contradiction is the military wants hard power. Soldiers and diplomats certainly have the same objective, but by opposite means (Lesson 6 2018, 2). The answer to these questions is in the definition of the objective, “What is our strategic goal? Is that goal achievable with the tools, resources and personnel available?” (Wallin 2015, 35). “Equally true is that States historic role has remained constant, while Defense has its power and influence grow” Smith 2007, v).

It is also said that “Soft power can only be used if others acknowledge this power, and those who wish to use it, can shape it as a means to achieving their goals” (Cristo 2005, 99).

For soft power to work and be effective, you need credibility. It was all but certain people thought Reagan had it, and all but certain Obama did not. The world thought Reagan was crazy, while Obama was much more of a talker. That is not a political jab, but reality. Reagan threatened nuclear Armageddon, while President Obama studied and discussed it in the civilized theater of world opinion. President Jimmy Carter seemed held hostage by the power of the presidency, and Bill Clinton would only act out after hours with some cruise missiles into lonely sites. And Bush 43 was incredibly harsh and in fact invaded a foreign country. But if your country didn’t begin with an “I”, and end with a “Q”, you were relatively safe.

As far as President Trump goes, as much as several in this class mistrust him, as a nation we certainly hope his “soft” approach to that Kim fellow will hopefully work. We all need it to work.

To put some examples on the diplomatic-military problem is highlighted here with these generals falling out of favor with the civilian Commander in Chief. Now as far as Generals being fired, it mostly is a good thing. Generals are great at what they do, but for the most part that is fighting wars, not mastering diplomacy.

Truman fired MacArthur, Patton had to be reigned in, Schwarzkopf had to stopped, Mad-Dog was terminated, and Stan McChrystal was fired too. All of those guys do what they do, and forgot who was elected President. Disagreeing is healthy, but publicly going against the President is never good for the country or job security.

And a favorite of mine was the late Major General John Singlaub, who was fired by President Carter in 1977 for calling out publicly Carter’s national security policies. The good General kept me alive when I was young, so I feel a loyalty and obligation to him. He was a great man, and was the “Contra”, in “Iran-Contra”.

I believe that is why the Russians attacked the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. NATO would not be directly involved, and the UK would not do anything, and it was calculated the U.S. would sit back idle and allow Russia to act out. Certainly Mr. Obama had harsh words and strong condemnation, but the last time I checked Putin doesn’t seem to care what the world thinks of him. They say he is surrounded by up to 140 Oligarchs, yet fact may prove he is in fact the richest Oligarch himself. So “soft power” against Russia in Ukraine was “no” power.

We all need soft power to work. It is in everyone’s interest. Yet we must possess an overwhelming hard power, and the stomach to wield it. Then perhaps, we will see more success at the diplomatic game, than the war game.

Respectfully, Mike Sr.

Works Cited:

Cristo, Donna A. “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics”. American Economist. Fall 2005.

Hastings, Michael. “The Runaway General: The Profile that Brought Down McChrystal”. The Rolling Stone. June 22, 2010.

Lesson 6. “Role of the Military”. AMU. Fall 2018.

Smith, Anton K. “turning on the Dime: Diplomacy’s Role in National Security”. Strategic Studies. October 2007.

Forum Post 2:

Greetings Everyone
Soft power is the ability to influence others by way of appeal and attraction, inviting others to share in one’s values in an attempt to shape their long-term attitudes and preferences. The value of soft power is that its non-coercive ability enables other countries to prefer or want American culture, political values and foreign policies. As Joseph Nye puts it, soft power is the ability to get others to want what you want, and to get the outcomes you want without coercion or payment (Nye, 2010, 2). To achieve the influence required to get the outcome desired, the military can use its Public Diplomacy efforts to engage in Inform and Influence Activities (IIA). Through such activities, U.S. military personnel are able to influence foreign audiences by sharing American values and using information related capabilities to harmonize themes, messages, and actions with their operations, thereby affecting adversary decision making (Wallin, 2015, 4). Information related capabilities include public affairs, military information support operations (MISO), combat camera, civil affairs operations, soldier and leader engagement, and military deception (Wallin, 2015, 4).
From a national security perspective, Information Operations (IO) are military communication techniques, which integrate the information related capabilities with other elements of operations to influence, disrupt, spoil, or usurp adversaries or potential adversaries decision making, while protecting U.S. personnel (Wallin, 2015, 5). For example, the leaflets dropped by the U.S. Air Force in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 had success in providing surrender instructions to Iraqi soldiers, making it a valued tool of psychological warfare (Wallin, 2015, 8). The same tactic was not as successful in Afghanistan, as the target audience differed culturally, educationally, and linguistically.
One quick example of soft power was the U.S. military’s quick response to the Haiti Earthquake in 2010. Military public diplomacy in action was seen in the work and interaction between the U.S. military, locals, and NGOs. The Navy provided medical assistance to thousands of Haitian’s via hospital ships and thousands of military personnel on the ground provided much needed assistance. The U.S. military involvement in Haiti demonstrated their embracement of nation-building, while civil affairs operations helped stabilize the country during crisis.
The Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) is another type of influential means the military uses as a counter insurgency weapon. As Wallin explains, the CERP are funds made available to troops on the ground for addressing emergency conditions encountered in their area of operations (Wallin, 2015, 15). The concept is Money as a Weapons System (MAAWS), and is based on the distribution of money and aid used to provide needs for a local population so as to influence their perceptions and actions (Wallin, 2015, 15). The value of MAAWS is the impact it has on the populace. Trust and confidence of coalition forces are strengthened, which enables increased intelligence communications to U.S. forces on the ground.
A dynamic of soft power is that foreigners react to it through a filtered lens of their local cultural interpretation (Gray, 2011, 33). Today’s global connectedness allows anyone’s perception of the U.S. to be shaped by their interpretation of what they see, hear and read on internet sites, social media and global news outlets. One’s view can change quickly based on material provided on the internet, but even so, soft power will continue to be a valuable tool for promoting U.S. interests abroad.

Gray, Colin S. “Hard Power and Soft Power: The Utility of Military Force as an Instrument of Policy in the 21st Century.” Strategic Studies Institute (April, 2011): i-73. Accessed January 5, 2019.
Nye, Joseph. “Global Power Shifts.” TED Talk Transcript (2010): 1-5. Accessed November 19, 2018.
Wallin, Matthew. “Military Public Diplomacy: How the Military Influences Foreign Audiences.” American Security Project (February, 2015): 1-43. Accessed December 3, 2018.

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