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BIDEN Urges Colleagues To Explore 'Smart Power'

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Location: Washington, DC

BIDEN Urges Colleagues To Explore 'Smart Power'

Holds First in a Series of Hearings to Examine the Use of all Non-Military and Military Resources to Promote Our National Interests

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) held a hearing today entitled, "Rebuilding America's ‘Smart Power'" to discuss building back up the non-military tools for our foreign policy. This is the first in a series of hearings Sen. Biden plans to hold in the coming months on the topic of "smart power."

The full text of Sen. Biden's opening statement is below:

"No less than force of arms, a statement of principle justifying our actions was "required." Our first act as a nation embodied what we now call "smart power" - using the force of our principles and ideas to promote our interests. Neither arms nor ideas were adequate alone. That was true then, and it is still true today.

"We are here today because there is a growing concern that in recent years we have lost the balance that served us so well throughout our history. This is the first in what I plan to be a series of hearings on the issue of smart power - the skillful use of all of our resources - non-military and military - to promote our national interests.

"General Zinni, Admiral Smith, welcome.

"The force of arms won our independence, and throughout our history, the force of arms has protected our freedom. But the very moment we declared our independence, we laid before the world the values behind our revolution. Our Declaration of Independence was written by men who believed that "a decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation."

"No less than force of arms, a statement of principle justifying our actions was "required." Our first act as a nation embodied what we now call "smart power" - using the force of our principles and ideas to promote our interests. Neither arms nor ideas were adequate alone. That was true then, and it is still true today.

"We are here today because there is a growing concern that in recent years we have lost the balance that served us so well throughout our history. This is the first in what I plan to be a series of hearings on the issue of smart power - the skillful use of all of our resources - non-military and military - to promote our national interests. Our two witnesses bring decades of uniformed service to our country. I wanted to begin this discussion with the people who know firsthand what it means to commit to combat, and hear what they think about the role of non-military resources in the pursuit of our security.

"General Zinni has held many key positions, including Commander in Chief of the U.S Central Command. He wrote a recent book - "The Battle for Peace" - that lays out an intellectual framework for smart power ideas. Admiral Smith is a retired four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy. He has served as Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Allied Forces Southern Europe and he led the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia. They represent over forty distinguished men and women who have served at the highest levels of our armed forces, all of whom believe we need, in their words, "a new vision of America's engagement with the world." These men and women have given their considerable expertise - and their considerable reputations - to launch today the National Security Advisory Council under the auspices of the Center for U.S. Global Engagement.

"Their message is straightforward: "We cannot rely on military power alone to make our nation secure." I agree. Virtually none of the challenges we face - including the rise of radical fundamentalism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, ethnic divisions, economic dislocations, environmental degradation, the spread of disease or the failure of states - can be met solely or even primarily with the force of arms.

"In recent years, as we have built up our military might, we have allowed the other elements of American power to atrophy. Funding for the Department of Defense is over half a trillion dollars, but the total foreign affairs budget is less than what the Pentagon spends on health care alone. For every $19 we put into the military, barely $1 goes towards civilian foreign assistance programs. This imbalance is producing a number of unintended consequences that are undermining our national security instead of advancing it.

"First, the weakness of the muscles that surround our military might is actually sapping the strength of our armed forces. In Iraq and Afghanistan, our military is spearheading reconstruction. As Secretary of Defense Gates said recently, we now have "field artillerymen and tankers building schools and mentoring city councils - usually in a language they don't speak." Out of necessity, they have gotten very good at it. But it is not their job - and it takes away from the job they are trained to do, namely fight the enemy. That's why Dick Lugar and I have been leading the effort in Congress to establish a Civilian Response Corps: a standing army of police trainers, judicial experts, engineers and administrators who can help build the capacity of countries emerging from conflict.

"Second, the recent emphasis on military preemption has come at the expense of true prevention - defusing threats to America's security long before they are on the verge of exploding. Military preemption has long been -- and must remain -- an option. But turning preemption into a one-size fits all doctrine has made the world even less secure for America. It said to Iran and North Korea their best insurance policy against regime-change was to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible. It said to fault line states like India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Russia and Chechnya, Israel and the Arab states that it is alright to use force first and ask questions later. It required a standard of proof for intelligence that may be impossible to meet unless we cherry pick the facts, as we did before we went into Iraq. And it has undermined our credibility around the world.

"If we're smart, we'll move from military preemption to a comprehensive prevention strategy that would: Secure loose weapons around the world… build the capacity of our partners to detect dangerous materials and disrupt terror networks… set new standards to seize suspect cargoes… provide security, political and economic incentives for states to forego weapons… and reform the entire non-proliferation system.

"Third, the emphasis on military might has come at the expense of building effective alliances and international organizations. This administration starts from the premise that because America's military might is so much greater than anyone else's, anything that could get in the way of using that might - even an ally -- must be ignored. But consider our main security challenge: a growing network of fundamentalist groups that could tap into a spreading supply of dangerous weapons. The best response to a network of terror is to build a network of our own, a network of like-minded countries that pools resources, information, ideas, and power. Taking on the radical fundamentalists alone isn't necessary, it isn't smart, and it won't succeed.

"Fourth, an over-reliance on military might has taken resources, energy and attention away from other strategies that can be more effective in actually advancing democracy, developing economies and preventing states from failing. We have spent on Afghanistan's reconstruction over six years what we spend on military operations in Iraq every three weeks. Yet Afghanistan and its border region with Pakistan are where Al Qaeda plotted 9-11, where the attacks on Europe since 9-11 originated and where Al Qaeda is now regrouping.

"If we are smart, we will do much more to help them pave roads and generate electricity, build schools and train teachers, open closed economies and empower women. Beyond these countries, we will relieve more debt, fight poverty and promote sustainable development. Climate change, the global rush for energy, the spread of disease - all these threaten our security as well. Left unanswered, they will be the wellsprings of future wars. Making these our priorities will make us safer. It will help restore the moral leadership we have lost. But it also will take time and money. It will require trade-offs and tough choices.

"I hope that our witnesses today will help us begin to think about those choices -- and about what we need to do to recapture the totality of America's strength."


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