Two civilised concepts: area denial and soft power

Area-denial strategy  

Some countries in which the US has a strategic interest are said to be concentrating on developing comprehensive defensive measures. ‘Potential target’ countries and even some lukewarm allies are figuring out ways to blunt American power without trying to meet it head-on,

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates summed up the situation in March: countries in places where the United States has strategic interests – including the Persian Gulf and the Pacific – are building “sophisticated, new technologies to deny our forces access to the global commons of sea, air, space and cyberspace.” 

China is developing a combination of traditional but sophisticated air defenses, ballistic and anti-ship missiles, together with anti-satellite and cyberwar weapons to disable reconnaissance and command-and-control networks.

Iran’s area-denial arsenal includes coastal and inland missile batteries and shallow-draft missile boats.

These capabilities could monitor and inhibit America’s access to the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf. 

The United States, Pentagon strategists say, “is quickly losing its ability to barge in without permission.”

Soft power

Brazil is said to be developing ‘soft power’ which resides to a very significant degree in the skill and personality of its president, his social policies, respect for democracy and human rights, renunciation of nuclear weapons, subordination of the military to civil authority, a multilateralist regional approach, increased level of participation in peacekeeping operations and involvement in regional mediation, dispute resolution, and public diplomacy.

The phrase ‘soft power’was coined by Joseph Nye in Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, 1990 and Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics 2004.

Colonel Pedro de Pessoa is the man who teaches Brazil’s army how to do “soft power”. As the commander of the army’s Peacekeeping Operations Training Centre, he trains thousands of Brazilian soldiers for their peacekeeping mission in Haiti, introducing them to new ideas about what it means to be a soldier in the 21st century.

He says Brazil has no problems with neighbours but needs to be strong as well as wise.

Note: this post does not imply approval of all policies adopted by the countries named.


One Response to Two civilised concepts: area denial and soft power

  1. C3000 says:

    General D’Souza comments:

    Soft power is a good idea.

    Like Brazil, Lt Gen Nambiar is doing the same in India teaching our troops destined for International Peacekeeping how to go about it.

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