"Embassy Rendez-Vous" Series Discusses ’Smart’ Power
On June 4, nearly 200 students and professionals joined ambassadors and senior diplomats at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., for the final conference of the “French Embassy Rendez-Vous” program, a series of high-profile debates co-organized by the French Embassy in the U.S., the Alliance Française in Washington and SAIS.
The event, “Disentangling Smart Power: Interests, Tools, Strategies,” followed an April 18 conference, “The Arab Awakening—One Year Later,” and a May 10 debate on “Religion and Politics from a Transatlantic Perspective”.
The morning panel focused on the contemporary aspects of public diplomacy. The day’s following roundtables debated the global-relations concept of "smart power," a mixed application of ’hard power’ and a more diverse soft power, involving diplomatic dialogue, economic sanctions and cultural influence.
- Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, spoke at the event. She authored a watershed 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article, which helped popularize the concept of smart power in U.S. foreign policymaking.
- Bruce Wharton, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy, Bureau of African Affairs
Bruce Wharton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the U.S. State Department, spoke about public diplomacy as a bridge between government and people, in a line of two-way communication.
“A diplomat must shape a narrative and expand people-to-people relations,” Mr. Wharton said.
Other speakers highlighted more specific means of ‘soft power,’ such as rock’n’roll music and popular film. Andras Simonyi, Executive Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, illustrated the effectiveness of music as a diplomatic tool.
“You might imagine all uses of government power falling on a spectrum, with red being hard power and blue being soft power. The exportation of music falls just in the middle in the green range. It’s a powerful tool without government intervention,” said Mr. Simonyi.
Panels also addressed the changing face of public diplomacy, including the use of science diplomacy, addressed by Tom Wang, deputy director of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science).
The smart power conference closes the French Embassy Rendez-vous series, organized by Aude Jehan, French Fellow and Research Associate at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS .
“We must rethink the concept of power, as it is becoming harder and harder to define; these ideas of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power have evolved so much since the Cold War, “ said Ms. Jehan, emphasizing the delicate nature of the notion of smart power.
Discussing ’Smart Power’ With Suzanne Nossel