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Joseph S. Nye Jr.

This chapter examines Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda. The Obama administration referred to its foreign policy as ‘smart power’, which combines soft and hard power resources in different contexts. In sending additional troops to Afghanistan, his use of military force in support of a no-fly zone in Libya, and his use of sanctions against Iran, Obama showed that he was not afraid to use the hard components of smart power. The chapter first considers power in a global information age before discussing soft power in U.S. foreign policy. It then explains how public diplomacy came to be incorporated into American foreign policy and concludes by highlighting problems in wielding soft power.


Alex Braithwaite and Ian Orringer

This chapter provides an overview of theoretical and empirical models of terrorist target selection. It references case studies on white nationalism in the USA, Spain, and the UK. A soft target is one which has minimally security, whereas a hard target will make use of police or an armed presence to provide security. An example of a hard target is an embassy. Empirical studies have found that terrorist attacks are most likely to occur in areas where there are higher levels of population density. Moreover, the location and timing of violent terrorist attacks are often highly symbolic and intentional and very rarely random. Terrorism, in this case, is regarded as a tool of the weak employed to help perpetrators to overcome power imbalance against a wealthier or militarily capable government.


This chapter examines US foreign policy as ‘smart power’, a combnation of hard and soft power, in the twenty-first century. The beginning of the twenty-first century saw George W. Bush place a strong emphasis on hard power, as exemplifed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This was evident after 9/11. While the war in Iraq showcased America’s hard military power that removed a tyrant, it failed to resolve US vulnerability to terrorism; on the contrary, it may have increased it. The chapter first considers the Obama administration’s reference to its foreign policy as ‘smart power’ before discussing Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, the role of power in a global information age, soft power in US foreign policy, and how public diplomacy has been incorporated into US foreign policy.