U.S. Soft Power Tools

Today’s developing world is fundamentally different than that of the 1950s. It is even different than when Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were in office, making it imperative that policymakers and strategists shaping U.S. foreign policy keep pace with these changes. Today, there are two divergent paths for developing countries: dozens are more affluent, freer, healthier, and more self-sufficient, while dozens still struggle mightily. Those doing well need drastically less foreign assistance and instead crave trade, infrastructure, and a diversified economy. There are, however, 30 to 40 failed and failing states that are not advancing and are generating many of our most significant national security threats. Every White House National Security Strategy since 2002 specifically cites failed, fragile, or failing states as a critical global security challenge. Thus, U.S. foreign assistance is to play a crucial role, but it must be applied to different challenges and opportunities to reflect a changed world.
Accordingly, the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS convenes a broad range of stakeholders, from time-to-time, to re-evaluate the soft-power tools needed to meet contemporary threats to U.S. strategic interests and the interests of the global community at-large, especially regarding economic development, peace, and prosperity.