The terms “hard power” and “smart power” are often used to describe the difference between the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration in foreign policy.
Hard power is the use of forceful tactics such as military actions or economic sanctions. …
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These terms are descriptions of the way that American governments deal with other states, especially those states which do not agree with American views. Hard power is the use of forceful tactics such as military actions or economic sanctions. It shows how strong America is, and imposes American views on other people. If the other countries involved are weak, then this can be very effective and President Bush used this kind of approach at the beginning of his first term of office. The invasion of Iraq is a classic example of hard power at work. This tough line was also an important part of President Bush’s election campaign in 2004: “the Bush administration achieved a greater advantage over Democrats in general and Senator John Kerry in particular on this issue than on any other in the 2004 presidential race.” (Campbell and O’Hanlon: 2006, p. 119) After the 9/11 attack on New York, it was possible to present hard power as a defence tool, not necessarily an act of aggression. This made it more acceptable to the American public. Sometimes, however, the opposite of hard power, i.e. soft power is a better approach. People know that America is strong, but they might be more impressed by gentle approaches like aid and support, with diplomatic summits and exchanges of views. America’s culture and image are also aspects of soft power.
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