Towards an Appraisal of United States Soft Power Diplomacy in the Fight against Global Terrorism

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The problem of terrorism in the twenty first century has given rise to the implementation of sophisticated and evolving counter terror strategies....

Dr. Daniel Olisa IWEZE
University of Benin, Nigeria

Bola YAYA
University of Benin, Nigeria


1. Introduction

The problem of terrorism in the twenty first century has given rise to the implementation of sophisticated and evolving counter terror strategies. Hybrid policies like the combination of soft power and hard power has been implemented to combat terrorism, this is visible in the 2009-2015 United States administration. Terrorism however is not a novel concept it can be traced to the first century AD where the Jewish Zealots used extremist means to eliminate the romans and destroyed their properties (1). Terrorism is visible in the early twentieth century in Adolf Hitler’s annihilation of the Jews. Modern terrorism is characterized by the use of sophisticated weapons, cell networks, the use of extreme methods of destruction and organized crime, these form of extreme methods includes, hijacking, bombings, suicide missions and other extreme means of violence by semi clandestine terrorist groups, this paper defines, terrorism as the use of violence or threatened violence aided by instruments of extremism such as bombings, hijackings, suicide missions etc., with the aim of influencing the government of the target states. September 11 2001 witnessed the premise of a new form of War when two hijacked airliners crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Centers in Washington DC, this attack was being orchestrated by the notorious al Qaeda terror group with Osama bin Laden as their supreme leader, this event marked a new dawn in the United States security arena and the world as a whole, various strategies where being implemented since then to prevent and counter Subsequent attacks being carried out on the US soil. These counter terrorist campaigns began with the Bush’s militarized hard power strategies in 2001 where he used preemptive strategies by taking the war to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
This paper focuses on the Obama’s administration from 2009-2015, which proceeded with the use of “Smart Power“, Joseph Nye, the Secretary of States in Clinton’s administration defines Smart Power as a combination of hard power and soft power (2). The war of terrorism that plagued the twenty first century is quiet novel to the United States, notwithstanding they are inventing new strategies in combatting the colossal chaos. Soft Power being a part of the United States Smart Power strategy is being assessed further in this discourse on its workability, efficacy and failures in combating both domestic and global terror.
 
2. Soft Power in Historical Perspective

Soft power is not a novel concept in international relations, it has existed over the years in the symmetric and asymmetric relations of states globally, it could be traced back to the 17th and 18th century when France promoted its culture throughout Europe, French did not only become the language of diplomacy but was also used in some foreign courts in Europe such as Prussia and Russia , after the defeat in the Franco Prussian war the French government sought to mend its prestige through the promotion of its language and literature which was named Alliance Francaise created in 1883 (3). Soft power was also deployed in the war years, Britain and Germany competed to create favourable images in the American public opinion (4).

(1) Asafa Jalata , ‘Colonial Terrorism, Global Capitalism and African Underdevelopment: 500 Hundred years of Crimes Against the African People’, The Journal of Pan African Studies vol 5, No 9. March 2013.
(2) Joseph Nye “The US Can Reclaim Smart Power’, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, January 2001.
(3) Richard Pells, “Not like Us“ (New York Basic Books 1997) Pp 31-32
(4) Harrold Lasswell cited in Phillip M Taylor, British Propaganda in the 20th Century (Edinburgh; Edinburgh University Press 1999, p. 37

Link to the related book: New Security Ecosystem and Multilateral Cost
 
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