Doing the hard sell on Soft Power(Policy Appraisal)

Posted: August 7th, 2013





Doing the hard sell on Soft Power (Policy Appraisal)

            For a long time, terrorism has continued to be among the leading threats to security in the United States and other countries. International terrorism has been on the rise, and is now regarded as a security threat both domestically and abroad. The fight against terrorism was heightened after the September 11 attack in New York where many civilians lost their lives (Ozgur and Hancerli 45). This forced the government to implement additional policies on the fight against terrorism. Several policies were put in place to cover terrorism in the United States as well as other countries that were attacked including developing ones. Some of the policies that have been used by United States in the antiterrorism fight include economic sanctions, covert action, constructive engagement, international cooperation, diplomacy and military force. Among them, economic sanctions have been used for quite some time now in the United States. Currently, the United States is using diplomacy or constructive engagement aimed at creating an anti-terrorism coalition internationally. This is in recognition that the terrorism war cannot be fought by one nation.

United States has currently been seeking to establish an anti-terror coalition internationally that would help in combating terror through the help of other countries. For instance, in leading a coalition against the Taliban during the Bush era, constructive engagement was used. Constructive engagement is a term that was coined in the United States for helping South Africa during its apartheid era as an alternative to economic sanctions (Perl, international terrorism 11). It advocates for maintenance of diplomatic relations within countries that are authoritative. This policy encourages the United States to form coalitions with many countries, which helps in fighting terrorism. Considering all that is required in the fight against crime such as funds and workers, such diplomacy ensures supply of enough recruits to help in these actions. Diplomatic relationships within the countries believed to support antiterrorism and cater for training of soldiers to help in establishing a strong defense of the country in question in order to resist terrorism (Perl, international terrorism 11).

Proponents of this policy argue that, through such coalitions, countries can be influenced to adopt democracy, open up to the rest of the world, and allow more information. This allows a country to be known more, where with information there is a better chance of gathering information about terrorists. Additionally, forming coalitions with government of countries that are believed to support terrorism creates a better chance of wining with the help from the government of the country. Constructive engagement and diplomacy is a far better policy considering it is less costly than military action by a far margin. With diplomatic relations in such countries, the government can have a guarantee to support when needed during terrorism fight. This is the best way of fighting terrorism, since there is less resistance within the country, meaning the people will be ready to help. Additionally, through such diplomacy and constructive engagement the government can improve the country (Perl, international terrorism 11).

Diplomatic and constructive engagement had been around for a long time, since the Reagan regime when it was used as a policy in helping the people of South Africa from apartheid when United States sought to intervene. This was seen as an alternative to economic sanction that acts in the opposite direction. Economic sanctions mean closing trading with such a country. This hinders a country from access to vital items from foreign countries and ends up adding to the misery of a country. On the other hand, constructive engagement seeks to establish a way of helping the country to overcome some of its issues. During apartheid, black people in South Africa were segregated from the white race. The United Nations intended to impose an economic sanction to segregate South Africa as a way of combating apartheid, but United States opposed and came up with the constructive engagement. This was during the 1980s when apartheid was quite rampant.

At its start, United States aimed at helping South Africa without much help form other countries. However, over time it has changed to mean seeking a coalition with other countries for better relations. When it was first adopted, it was meant for helping South Africa in fighting apartheid. Over time, it has changed to include relation of many countries, with an aim of helping countries in developing as well as for ensuring good trading relations. Currently it has been used for fighting terrorism. Many view it as a way of negotiating with the enemy since it advocates doing business together as opposed to sanctions. It aims at promoting economic and political issues, while at the same time advocating for democracy within the authoritarian countries. This way, countries are more likely to gain power in influencing the authoritarian nation to implement political reforms. Over time, it has changed to become a policy meant for improving relationships between countries, and recently found use in fighting terrorism.

Constructive engagement has had its success in fighting terrorism in countries where it has been used. However, it is important top note it has not been used alone. Rather, other policies have been used together as well in order to achieve the desired goal. In the war against Al Qaeda, constructive engagement was used to create a coalition of countries that would come in to help United States in fighting against terror. The policy was successful since it managed to make a coalition of more than 100 countries that came together to fight terrorism and gave their assistance in many ways. Many of the countries offered military support to United States to fight the terrorist groups in different countries. Some of the military support included airlifts, landing rights and accommodation to the American forces. This provided strategic points for fighting the terrorist groups, which was facilitated by constructive engagement with the countries neighboring Afghanistan. This resulted in eliminating the training grounds for terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda (Perl 3).

Additionally, the United States military was dispersed to several countries such as the Philippines, Colombia, Yemen and former Soviet Republic of Georgia to train military personnel in these areas to deal with terrorism. This is a constructive engagement, where United States collaborates with other countries, and helps them in developing their military strength in order to fight terrorism. Having constructive engagement with countries neighboring terrorist strongholds has helped in ensuring terrorists cannot continue with their activities as easy as before.

Additionally, the constructive engagement ahs allowed the United States to share intelligence information with other countries, which was not allowed. This has enforced cooperation and trust among the countries teaming up to fight terrorism. The United States government teamed with other governments to root out terrorist cells. This sharing of intelligence resulted in the arrest of 3000 terrorists in 2003, as well as those who supported them in various countries. More so, $124 million of terrorist assets in around 600 bank accounts were frozen with $36 million coming from the United States (Perl 3). More so, countries that were involved in supporting extremist groups and international terrorists started drawing their help away, with some such as Libya offering to compensate the victims of Pan Am 103 bombing and share intelligence on Al Qaeda. Syria was not left out in offering their collaboration with the United States by offering to fight the terrorist groups in their country (Perl 3). According to Perl, data illustrates that terrorism has reduced greatly (3).

The constructive policy has been successful in combating terrorism through gathering support and collaboration from other countries. After gathering support, military action has been widely used as well in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. With support and sharing of intelligence among collaborating countries, success has been achieved. However, the constructive engagement and diplomacy cannot act alone without other forms of policy such as military action. Some terrorists are not ready to negotiate anything. Thus, constructive engagement has enhanced the success of the military action as well.

Constructive engagement has several ramifications both long and short-term. One of its short –term consequences is reducing the mount of money that is spent on military action. With effective diplomacy and constructive engagement, military action can be reduced by a greater margin Win 2010). This would reduce the costs of fighting terrorism in both short-term and long-term perspectives. Another consequence of this policy is the ability to built collaboration of various countries in fighting crime and ensuring global peace Win 2010). This creates peace among countries and trust since there is a lot of sharing and doing business together. This further prevents potential wars, since at good terms with other countries even enemies reduces the likelihood of attacking each other. This has the ability to create long-term relations among countries.

In this policy, there are allies as well as adversaries. Within united states, there are some who believe that terrorism can only be fought through military action, citing that a majority of terrorists do not came to the bargaining table with an intention of reaching a solution. Rather, they come with an intention of destroying everyone at the negotiations table (McDermott 2007). Thus, the opponents of this policy feel there is nothing to negotiate with terrorists. More so, others feel that this is a way of doing business with the terrorists, which should not be. Proponents of the policy, on the other hand, argue that is a better and more humane way of solving issues rather than use of military action all the time (Win 2010). Thus, they find it better and more so considering it can help in saving some of the costs of running war as well as establish positive relations with other countries.



Work cited

McDermott, Jim. You Do not Negotiate With the Barrel of a Gun., March 15, 2007. Web. September 27, 2012.

Nikbay, Ozgur, and Suleyman Hancerli. Understanding and Responding to the Terrorism Phenomenon: A Multi-Dimensional Perspective. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2007. Print.

Perl, F. Raphael. International Terrorism: Threat, Policy, and Response. Congressional Research Service. 2007. Print.

Perl, F. Raphael. Terrorism and National Security: issues and Trends. Congressional Research Service. 2003. Print.

Win Kanbawza. Constructive Engagement Policy is Making Its Presence Felt. Asian Tribute, July 22, 2010. Web. September 27, 2012.


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