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Resourcing and integrating America’s soft-power: A 21st century imperative

December 7, 2010

A quick look at the strategic environment reveals myriad complex sets of threats and opportunities that require effective integration of all sources of American power—hard and soft. However, our national security system is grossly imbalanced and finds it easier to mobilize resources for hard-power assets than soft-power capabilities. The Project on National Security Reform has examined numerous case studies, such as the Iraq War, the disestablishment of the U.S. Information Agency, and missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, that illustrate how inadequate reserves of soft-power resources have deprived the United States of its ability to employ all requisite elements of national power. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others, has been outspoken on the subject, stating when he came into office, “I am here to make the case for strengthening our capacity to use ‘soft’ power and for better integrating it with ‘hard’ power.” Our national security system must employ a more balanced approach that can adequately resource, train, and equip the full range of civilian instruments required to operate successfully in today’s security environment. We must also empower mechanisms, such as interagency teams, that can effectively integrate hard and soft power by establishing common national security goals to create unity of purpose and by carrying out those goals jointly to achieve unity of effort.

– Dan Langberg, Deputy Director for Interagency Teams and Planning

This is from a series of posts by our staff in response to this question: What role should soft power play in 21st century national security?

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