I’ve Got the Power

There are two columns (here and here) by Joseph Nye which illustrate one of the chief reasons why I like Barack Obama versus John McCain. They both focus on what Nye calls “soft power.”

Now, soft power is something Republicans simply don’t understand. I don’t understand why they don’t because their “demigod” Ronald Reagan had it in spades. Soft power is the ability to obtain what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.

Neo-cons don’t understand soft power. One of the best quotes in the comments section of one of the articles states, “Trying to explain soft power to Republicans is like teaching fish to read brail.” A saber-rattling foreign policy is why our economy is in the toilet, Americans are reviled globally and gas is $4 a gallon.

Soft power is not a slogan or something to rally around, but it is a key ingredient in changing the worldwide mindset of American Imperialism. I’m advocating a balancing act of hard and soft power eloquently illustrated by the Teddy Roosevelt tenant, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

My problem with the current administration is that it has used its military might to impose its foreign policy and ignore diplomacy. This is hard power unbalanced by soft power. Bush and company have squandered our political capital world-wide by invading Iraq on tenuous reasoning. They believed (and still believe) that actively using hard power will generate positive results. Remember the Cheney line of “We will be treated as liberators” in Iraq? Didn’t quite happen that way.

Consequently, our economy is suffering while we spend millions of dollars monthly in Iraq. Just think what good all that money could have done had it gone toward domestic issues such as poverty, addiction or even innovation? Dropping a few more million in education, new energy, health care would make a difference in the lives of regular folk. I’m not talking entitlements or even new programs, just adding funds to take care of the citizens of the United States first. With all the money we are spending idiotically in Iraq, we could have had New Orleans cleaned up… we could take care of the flooding in Iowa… we could give every tax payer $60,000 instead of a measly $600.

Having the rest of the world hate you doesn’t help anyone on the homefront.

An Obama presidency is looked as a positive step forward in the international community. A McCain presidency is looked as a continuation of the policies which the rest of the world despises.

“Speak softly, but carry a big stick” sounds like a good philosophy to follow. It even comes from a Republican president. All I know is I like it better than, “Shoot first, ask questions later.”