Soft Power

“Nothing in this world is as strong as kindness, justice, and righteousness.” 

~ J. W. Jackson

I have known Dr. Jim Jackson for over 20 years and served alongside him overseas on a number of occasions. Project C.U.R.E. has an outstanding record of effective and enduring health interventions in austere locations in more than 125 countries. Many of these contribute to US national security by helping to win “hearts and minds” in favor of the American people. Jim’s generous personal example of medical humanitarian outreach shows a kinder and gentler face of the United States, and is exactly complimentary to what we in the US military must do to protect our homeland. 

~Dr. James W. Terbush, Command Surgeon, NORAD/Northcom, Homeland Security

I would probably be classified by a political ornithologist as a military hawk. I love my country and would defend with my life its sacred honor. Furthermore, I believe it to be a cardinal responsibility of the national leadership to protect the nation’s citizenry, its honor, and its assets.

Recently, I have been trying to mentally revisit and re-assess the things I have experienced in order to see if I can draw some conclusions for myself. Let me share some of my gained insights from having visited over the past quarter century the military and political hotspots of the globe. I was born before the United States entered into World War II. We have always had an identifiable, precise, and convenient enemy. It was the Nazis, then China, North Korea, and, for the balance of the century, it was the Soviet Union.

Following the collapse of the Soviet system we were saddled with a dilemma not unlike the puppy dog, who, after spending his life chasing cars, finally caught the car . . . now what does he do? Who now is the grand enemy? Now, a new grand strategy has to be designed. It seems to me that over the years we have spent so much energy and capital legitimately trying to prevent the horror of global war that we have sometimes forgotten the reality of global synthesis and the possibility of peace. It is not so convenient being without a consistent, well-defined enemy.

It is almost impossible with one fell swoop to stop describing horrible futures to be prevented, and to start proclaiming the positive futures to be created. But, in the early 1990s we were offered that chance. While still appearing like a solution looking for aproblem, we seemed to try to substitute the slippery war on terror for the well-defined strategies of the cold war. To do that it was necessary to redefine the very word war. We needed to come up with definitive terms like “non-war combatant involvement” as we redefined our engagements.

Over the past thirty years I have observed the challenges and the changes that have been a part of the Pentagon strategies. I have seen their many defensive facets from different angles. I applaud them for their efforts to reassess, redesign, and re-appropriate the capital assets and human assets of the military.

Today, there are some really bad individuals desiring to do some really bad things to their own citizens and to their neighbors. Those charlatans and thugs who wreak evil and peril on their own citizens and close neighbors need to be checked. Equipped with a moral imperative and a well designed strategy, there is opportunity to see to it that everybody becomes better off. The countries are not necessarily bad, the societies are not necessarily bad, and the whole government may not be necessarily bad. Certainly the bad guys can be neutralized using weapons such as smart bombs and nonlethal forms of warfare that target enemy systems without harming the citizens or destroying the country’s capital or infrastructure.

But the thing for which I most applaud the new approach of the Pentagon is their expressed desire to begin winning the hearts and minds of the connected people of the developing world. That strategy of kindness, justice, and righteousness will in the long run be more effective than all the bullets and bombs in the world.

Over the past twenty-five years I have personally witnessed the powerful potential of radical change in the developing countries of the world through the acts of humanitarian kindness by Project C.U.R.E. We do not engage in medical philanthropy in order to get the disadvantaged people to become more and more dependent upon us. As a cultural economist, I believe that a healthy economy cannot be built on sick people. So, help get the people well and give them the medical information, supplies, and pieces of equipment so that they can begin to build their own medical enterprises and become dependent upon themselves. It can happen, and I have seen it happen.

I can excitedly imagine a revolutionary Pentagon strategy of soft power projection, where we expand the good and not simply check the evil. I would like to be a part of that change and would encourage the Pentagon in their efforts. With our sights focused on proactively winning the hearts and minds of the people in lesser developed countries by truly making them better off, we can become the necessary and welcomed force in making a better tomorrow for our world.