Trump can surprise world by using hard and soft power equally
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It has been suggested that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE will be a president who will focus on "hard power" to underpin his foreign policy goals rather than focusing on "soft power," which was Obama's preference.

Both approaches are one-sided, though, and both are wrong. The United States cannot just use this or that; it needs to use both. Hard or soft, it's about power, period. Time and again, we must remember how communism was defeated by a combination of hard and soft power tools, the attraction of Western freedoms, and a steadfast NATO, the U.S.-led Western military alliance.

While taking a strong stance on security and defense, Trump needs deploy American soft power institutionally in his foreign policy.

It is wrong to think that the Russian "attacks" on the West are just temporary or tactical. They are strategic, long-term and disruptive. Russia seems to have mastered our abilities of the past, studied it well, combined it with new technologies and made it highly effective.

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Expelling Russian diplomats and "experts" is hardly the right response — it is benign, soft and short-term; too little, too late. Russian President Vladimir Putin laughs at it.

The grossly underestimated Russians have designed a sophisticated toolbox of mixed power, with multiple tools and the ability and infrastructure to deploy them.

They have a design for each country: The one for the United States is different from the one for Hungary and still different from the ones designed for France or Germany.

But at all times, Russia has also combined the two ends of the spectrum of power, like RT (its government-sponsored foreign TV network) and the invasion of Ukraine simultaneously. While the Russian population is living in a stagnant society both in terms of its economic situation and in terms of democracy and the rule of law, Putin has not ceased to spend money on, and use, the external factors of big-power politics.

The Obama administration was wrong about its perception of the world: The idea that goodwill and goodness will be rewarded and reciprocated by goodwill and goodness. This has led the West as a whole down a wrong path; a dead-end street. It's time to make a U-turn.

The successes of Russia are in part the result of its sophistication but also a result of the naivete of our democratic and liberal societies, the misguided priorities of mainstream liberals in America and Europe.

I have no idea what the real Trump foreign policy will be. At this point, I come down on the side of those who suggest that yes, the president-elect should keep the world guessing, and should not reveal his intentions. He should also rethink possibilities and opportunities and regroup the tools in America's toolbox.

I am indeed worried about the idea of a grand bargain in the relationship between Russia and the West. Russian history, and indeed Putin's own personal history, suggests that this is a bad idea. Putin needs to be told in no uncertain terms that it's future aggressions in Europe will be pushed back by military force. We will not tolerate its interference into our democracies.

It should also be made clear that we are for cooperation, when certain conditions are met, and that we will make every effort to figure out how to do this.

But then, the two aspects of power politics need to be locked in tight — not as a matter of choice, but rather of neccesity.

Trump will also have to make it very clear that Russian communication has no free reign in our societies. No, Putin cannot interfere in our election process. RT and Russian social media cannot spread lies and propaganda in our midst, while our communication in Russia is hampered and restricted and journalists with dissenting views are constantly harassed.

Before he announces his policies toward Russia, Trump should also put together a high-powered team to rethink how best to make use of the combined power toolbox. He of all politicians is well positioned to put communication to use for the advancement of American and thus Western interests.

He is a master communicator, and what worked in the election campaign (no, it wasn't beautiful, but it was effective) should now be used in his international efforts.

But this is no longer a one-man show. He will need to involve players from a vast field. I remember the enormous success of Nancy Brinker, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, who used her Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization to promote her country and American values while working with the Hungarians on hard military cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. She remains highly popular in Hungary.

That's the way to do it.

No, this is not a return to the past, but we can learn a lot from it. It is well-known how American rock-'n'-roll culture, Levi's blue jeans, and cultural and scientific contacts were part of the "war effort" during the Cold War.

So even if he doesn't know it, the president-elect is actually trying to work out a detente with the Russians. But then his friend, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, should tell him why detente worked: only because the "three baskets" (strategic-military, economic and human-cultural) were working hand in hand.

President-elect Donald Trump should now surprise the world and embrace the combination of hard and soft power, and use it in his usual, hardheaded manner.

András Simonyi is the managing director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has held some of the highest positions in the Hungarian diplomatic service, including Hungarian ambassador to NATO and to the United States. Follow him on Twitter @AndrasSimonyi.


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