I've never visited Pandagon
before, but I will many times in the future. I just read a couple of great postings over there but Ezra Klein's entry "Hard America vs. Soft America
" really hit me as just right. I wish I wrote this -- it even has the word 'versus' in the title, just like half of my entries! Here's the key graph:
It boils down to a disgust with the Bush Administration's reliance on hard power and their inability to see the potential of soft power. In some ways, that is the great liberal/conservative divide (though a vast oversimplification). Conservatives believe in America the fighter, America the country with the largest military and the most advanced bombing technology. Liberals believe in America the idea, the America of the Marshall Plan and the Declaration of Independence. And so far as I can tell, the last 30 years have shown that hard America's utility is limited, and often far overstated. So while our strategy of big and ever-sharper sticks has its merits, isn't it about time we gave a carrot-based foreign policy a shot? And didn't this earthquake offer an excellent opportunity to try?
My only quibble is the implication that hard and soft power are somehow mutually exclusive; personally I believe in both. But I agree whole-heartedly Bush and the neo-cons have far over used and abused American hard power while greatly underutilizing the soft and America is weaker as a result.