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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.


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.


Edited by Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

U.S. Foreign Policy provides a comprehensive overview of the United States’s role in international politics. Chapters focus in turn on the historical background, institutions, regional relations, and contemporary issues that are key to the superpower’s foreign policy making. The second edition includes two new chapters on Barack Obama’s use of smart power and a debate on the nature of U.S. hegemony. All chapters have been updated with important developments including the effects of the global financial crisis, the on-going conflict in Afghanistan, and political uprisings in the Middle East.