Traditionally, there are two types of power that are generally attributed to the actions of leaders in the realm of International Relations. These are Hard and Soft Powers. According to leading political analysts, former US President Jimmy Carter employed the Soft Power approach in dealing with global issues but eventually failed in achieving America’s top foreign policy objectives.
In recent years, the foreign policy strategy of former US President George W. Bush was overly characterised by Hard Power approach.
Domestically, he implemented a strong form of neo-conservatism whiles bulldozing the UN Security Council with unilateral decisions in pursing US interest at the global level through Hegemonic Stability theory. Through such uncompromising Hard Power strategy, President Bush Formed the Coalition of the willing to invade Iraq, Afghanistan and essentially declared the Global War on Terrorism.
Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd)
When President Obama Succeeded President Bush, he designed his foreign policy strategy around Smart Power and we can say that, through this strategy Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East (less Syria), the Korean Peninsula, Indian/Pakistan border conflict over Kashmir and the Global War on Terrorism are all easing down compared to President Bush’s Hard Power epoch.
In African politics, history demonstrates and current actions and behavioural patterns of most of our leaders glitteringly reveal that Hard Power is the only successful model that is available and applicable. That is what makes President Koroma a unique and ingenious president. When he came to power some six years ago, he carefully studied both the domestic and international spheres of politics so that he can choose the right foreign policy direction for us as a people and a state in furtherance of our national interest and consolidating our bilateral and multilateral relationships the rest of the world.
President Koroma’s decision to adopt the Smart Power strategy didn’t emerge as a coincidence but through crucial evaluation of the international system in terms of threats, vulnerabilities, risks, interests and opportunities. For instance, in a given domestic or international situation, President Koroma appraises what options and goals are preferred in handling the issues at hand. He also gauges what resources are available and in which context to utilise them. Above all, President Koroma employs critical thinking to ascertain which form of power behaviour is most likely to succeed in an escalating situation? All the aforementioned rational and evaluative skills of the president create the probability to succeed with ease.
Smart Power therefore is the combination of Hard and Soft power strategies to pursue a country’s foreign policy. President Koroma has efficiently used Smart Power strategy since 2007 as he is confident that, neither Soft Power nor Hard power can be effective enough in certain situations whether at the domestic or international arena. For President Koroma, Smart power is the absolute way to succeed. In the international domain, President Koroma has utilised Smart Power to mediate, negotiate and address bilateral and multilateral issues with huge success.
Smart President Koroma is instrumentalising diplomacy as a vanguard to pursue both domestic and foreign policy objectives by choosing the right tool or combination of tools at his disposal to achieve his domestic and foreign policy objectives. In President Koroma’s Smart Power strategy unlike many others around the globe, he incorporates development, a non-aggressive defence and diplomacy as the pivotal tripod of his administration’s success. By adopting the Smart Power strategy, President Koroma has succeeded in creating a delicate balance between a non-aggressive defence and diplomacy which has consolidated domestic peace and obviously strengthened international cooperation from all facets.
As changes in the international system continues to be pre-eminent with Russia, China, the EU, the Arab World becoming very important world players, leaders of Third World countries like Sierra Leone should be careful and skilful enough in relating with these global big brothers so that our actions may not be misinterpreted as paying loyalty to any one of them. In international Relations parlance, this is avoiding to be caught up in Balance of Power struggle between the key global players – as this may lead to serious political and economic consequences of the needy Third World State. That is what makes President Koroma a smart president - building a cooperative strategic relationship between countries through Smart Power whiles avoiding to jump into any of their band wagons in the name of polarity.
With effective Smart Power strategy, President Koroma is always a step ahead of his counterparts when it comes to negotiations and resolutions. For instance, Yenga’s re-annexation with Sierra Leone came as a big surprise to many Sierra Leoneans but those of us that are aware of President Koroma’s Smart Power strategy were not. Because Smart President Koroma’s smart power approach is capable of outsmarting his political opponents whiles conveniently winning foreign hearts and minds in pursuance of our national interest. President Koroma’s father-like approach in preventing, resolving and managing potential pre and post-election violence in tandem with his invaluable skills in allaying the International Community’s concerns is reminiscent of his enviable Smart Power stratagem.
President Koroma’s Smart Power device isn’t of a speck of err that greatness lies not in the exercise of coercive control, but in a capacity to negotiate, compromise and move on. President Koroma believes smart leadership is about doing the right things and he’s aware that extreme Hard Power leadership is a form of narcissistic leadership that is clearly irrational and not worth emulating. As operatives of Smart Power approach, US President Obama believes that President Koroma is the pacesetter in terms of democracy and good governance in Africa and that was recently demonstrated when the former invited the latter to the White House to deliberate on important issues affecting the African Continent. It’s really smart to be smart – thank you Mr. President for adopting this very instrumental political tool in pursuing our national interest with dignity and admiration.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.