When it comes to achieving national security and foreign policy objectives, many federal government executives believe that Smart Power can play a critical role.
This increased support for Smart Power was dramatically illustrated in a survey conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Government Business Council. By combining Hard and Soft Power efforts in defense, diplomacy, and development, most survey responders are convinced that Smart Power can solve geopolitical issues such as humanitarian assistance, stabilization and reconstruction, and conflict resolution.
But the survey also indicated that improved collaboration between federal agencies, NGOs, and private sector organizations is needed if Smart Power is to be successful.
Booz Allen and the Government Business Council surveyed 135 randomly selected executives from the Departments of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Results were detailed in the December 2010 study, “Addressing Geopolitical Challenges: The Smart Power Approach.”
But although federal executives are enthusiastic about the possibilities of Smart Power, the study revealed that many have doubts that agencies can turn theory into practice; chief obstacles to collaboration include ineffective communication and interagency politics. But the executives’ overall optimism suggests that the goal of fully realizing Smart Power is worth pursuing.
The need for more collaboration among agencies was also cited in the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), completed in late 2010, which assessed the roles of and relationships between the State and Defense Departments and identified emerging priorities for State.
Booz Allen Senior Associates Cheryl Steele and Jon Allen, who contributed to the “Addressing Geopolitical Challenges” study, appeared on Federal News Radio on December 20, 2010 and January 3, 2011 to discuss how the QDDR will change the way the U.S. approaches international development.
The QDDR indicates that increased collaboration may impact the balance of State and DoD efforts in foreign countries. Steele said there was a need for diplomacy and development to create a unified direction in which State and the DoD should be heading. In addition, when necessary, the QDDR may guide which issues should be directed to other government and non-government resources that can deliver the President’s desired outcomes more effectively than efforts using diplomacy and development.
Allen noted that the QDDR outlines a more forward-looking approach as to how State wants to shape itself in the future. More and more, federal executives are unified in their belief that investing in diplomacy is a smart approach that pays dividends.
Booz Allen and the Government Business Council selected executives for the survey from a database of subscribers to Government Executive magazine; the Council is the magazine’s marketing research division.