American "Smart Power": Diplomacy and Development Are the Vanguard

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs
May 4, 2009


See updated Fact Sheet

“We must use what has been called smart power: the full range of tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation.”

— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Obama Administration recognizes that the United States and the world face great perils and urgent foreign policy challenges including ongoing wars and regional conflicts, the global economic crisis, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, worldwide poverty, food insecurity, and pandemic disease.

Military force may sometimes be necessary to protect our people and our interests. But diplomacy and development will be equally important in creating conditions for a peaceful, stable and prosperous world. That is the essence of smart power – using all the tools at our disposal.

Smart power requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries, bolstering old alliances and forging new ones. Even if we disagree with some governments, America shares a bond of common humanity with the people of every nation, and we will work to invest in that common humanity.

Foreign Policy Goals
  • Keeping the American people, the nation and our allies secure
  • Promoting economic growth and shared prosperity at home and abroad
  • Strengthening our position of global leadership to protect the health of our planet and expand human dignity and opportunity
  • Protecting and advancing U.S. values

Agility and Interdependence
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pursue a foreign policy agenda powered by partnership, principles and pragmatism. Cooperating and collaborating with other nations and organizations, the State Department will work to design and implement global and regional solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Development and Human Rights as Integral
More than two billion people worldwide live on less than two dollars a day, and many suffer daily violations of their dignity and human rights. Economic and social development and the promotion of human rights worldwide, especially for women and girls, remain essential to U.S. foreign policy.

Foreign Policy Tools
  •  Negotiating, persuading and exerting leverage
  •  Cooperating with our military partners and other agencies of government
  •  Partnering with NGOs, the private sector and international organizations
  • Using modern technologies for public outreach • Empowering negotiators who can protect our interests while understanding those of our negotiating partners

Establishing Priorities
The State Department will be disciplined in evaluating foreign policy choices; weighing the costs and consequences of our action or inaction; gauging the probability of success; and insisting on measurable results.

The American Spirit
American democracy continues to inspire people worldwide, and U.S. influence is greatest when we live up to our own ideals. The Obama Administration aims to make the United States an exemplar of our own values.