- "The time will come and is inevitably coming when all institutions based on force will disappear through their uselessness, stupidity, and even inconvenience becoming obvious to all."
– Leo Tolstoy
When faced with the deadly arms of a military superpower, you have no other option but to get 'smart' for your defense. The main idea behind developing Smart Power is not to get some fancy ultra-efficient weapons, but to make the existing ones stronger via non-conventional means. This usually includes appealing to other powers through diplomacy, making alliances, and generally making the non-warfare life of the potential aggressor sufficiently hard so that he backs down without you having actually defeated him on the field!
Total war is a dangerous option in an age with nuclear proliferation. Ruling a world defined by fallout and irradiated rubble seems not worth the cost. To this end, the idea of “smart power” has been proposed—a mix of limited military demonstrations and non-military action aimed at achieving a state's political ends. This is not really a new practice, but the presence of apocalyptic weapons does change some of the details of implementation.
A mix of statecraft, unorthodox and traditional diplomacy, direct outreach to enemy populations, and meaningful demonstrations of power (“shock and awe”) define the smart power approach. Adherents like to speak of “combat multipliers,” where different approaches combine nonlinearly to produce greater outcomes than the sum of the inputs. When that fails, ex post facto changes to stated political goals also can be useful in declaring victory.