The Obama Administration in the United States has announced and started implementing foreign policy that is distinctly different from that of its predecessor, the Bush Administration. A new foreign policy doctrine, based on the concept of ‘smart power’, is now emerging and acknowledges that a combination of ‘hard power’ and ‘soft power’ is required for the US to build an appropriate framework within which to tackle unconventional threats such as terrorism. In essence, the prioritisation of soft power indicates a return to intangible power resources, such as culture, ideology and institutions, and most importantly, prioritises diplomacy as an instrument of foreign policy. This study will determine why this dramatic shift has occurred, and will investigate the diplomatic fallout of the Bush Administration’s ‘war on terror’ during which ‘hard power’ tools were favoured and diplomacy was marginalised or, at best, combined with unilateral and even coercive tools of foreign policy. The study will also interrogate the preliminary assumption that the foregoing has convinced policy-makers in the US that the country, despite its superpower status, will not be able to achieve its long-term goals on its own and, if it acts unilaterally, will undermine those political alliances and institutions that are vital to its foreign-policy goals. This has arguably prompted the Obama Administration’s recent embrace of global diplomatic norms, inter alia, transparency, inclusiveness, multilateralism, respect for international law, and basic civility in international relations.
Mini Dissertation (MDIPS)--University of Pretoria, 2012.