He notes that "two distinct but overlapping elements" were neither clearly identified nor articulated to the American public or even to the national security apparatus after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He identifies them as Islam and Islamism.
"The former is a religion of nearly a quarter of the world's population; the latter is a political ideology whose central tenet is unifying government and Islam and is advocated by a small subset of Muslims." Without our awareness of the situation, a workable plan is not possible.
China is an area of long-term strategic importance. "China pursues other policies that ought to be of greater concern: building up its military, waging cyber war, and systematically stealing intellectual property," in addition to currency manipulation, Whiton writes.
While we might not be fully engaged in smart power, our foes clearly are using all tools in the spectrum. Last week's op-ed in The New York Times by Russian President Vladimir Putin provides an example. After stating that "there was every reason to believe" that the chemical attacks in Syria were carried out not by the Syrian government but by opposition forces, Putin closes with a jab at the heart of our foundation as a country. "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional ... We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
What Putin does not understand is that while all people are created equal, our national construct, our belief that God gives people rights, which are loaned to the government, makes our nation an exceptional nation.
What's required to use smart power? We need to understand the truth regarding the national interests of others; we need to revamp our national security structure; and we need to use smart power -- the tools in the middle -- rather than rely on the tools at the extremes -- routine diplomacy on one end and military action when the cocktails run out.