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In her farewell address at Council for Foreign Affiars, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed American leadership among other things.

CFA has the video available here (full transcript here — notice how much detail she pours into her answers at the Q&A. that’s intelligence for ya) . Well worth a watch, to think about core issues.

As i’ve said before, I don’t agree with Hillary on everything. But her stance on “smart power” is extremely important to me — I think she is 100% right and the world would be better if that attitude was more prevalent:

So technology, development, human rights, women — now, I know that a lot of pundits hear that list, and they say, isn’t that all a bit soft? What about the hard stuff?

Well, that is a false choice. We need both, and no one should think otherwise. I will be the first to stand up and proclaim loudly and clearly that America’s military might is and must remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. I will also make very clear, as I have done over the last years, that our diplomatic power, the ability to convene our moral suasion, is effective because the United States can back up our words with actions. We will ensure freedom of navigation in all the world’s seas. We will relentlessly go after al-Qaida, its affiliates and its wannabes. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

There are limits to what soft power on its own can achieve. And there are limits to what hard power on its own can achieve. That’s why from day one I’ve been talking about smart power. And when you look at our approach to two regions undergoing sweeping shifts, you can see how this works in practice.


Let’s go practise then!