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Joseph Nye

Joseph Nye

Posted: August 5, 2005 07:58 PM

What's in a Name?

Donald Rumsfeld had recently started speaking about a "global struggle against violent extremists" -- GSAVE -- instead of a "global war on terrorism" -- GWOT. Beyond switching to a less ugly acronym, what was going on? According to Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the new terminology made it more clear that the struggle cannot be solved by military means alone. So true. This is a struggle for the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims, and attraction does not come solely from the barrel of a gun.

Unfortunately, President Bush reverted to GWOT in his recent speech, and Rumsfeld quickly fell in line. But unless we learn how to use the instruments of soft power -- public diplomacy, aid, cooperation -- we are not going to succeed. When we learn to blend soft power with our hard power, we will be a smart power. The recent appointment of Karen Hughes is a step in the right direction. (Her job as undersecretary of State for public diplomacy had been left vacant for half of Bush's first term.) But by squashing GSAVE and going back to GWOT, the president has made her new job more difficult. Too bad.