Correction to This Article
In the A-section of some Aug. 3 editions, a headline on a Trail item incorrectly attributed to Democratic candidates a campaign to win hearts and minds in the Middle East. Mitt Romney, a Republican, made such a pitch in his campaign for president.
Page 2 of 2   <      

Edwards Urges Fellow Democrats To Reject Murdoch's Money

As Democrats Get Hawkish, GOP Talks Hearts and Minds

Sen. Barack Obama made waves Wednesday with the hawkish tone of his speech on terrorism, which, with its pledge to hunt down terrorists in Pakistan without local permission, if necessary, seemed designed to counter Sen. Hillary Clinton's claims that he is "naive and irresponsible" when it comes to global threats.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Republicans have tended to mock Democratic calls for increased diplomacy and foreign aid as a way to cut off Islamic extremism at its roots, noting that many terrorist plotters do not come from the poorest sectors of Muslim countries.

But there appears to be a growing recognition among Republicans that protecting the United States may require more than military intervention.

At a town hall meeting in Iowa last Friday, Mitt Romney offered an eye-catching twist on his usual stump speech when he held up Hezbollah as a model for the effectiveness of using social services to win hearts and minds. "Did you notice in Lebanon what Hezbollah did? Lebanon became a democracy some time ago. And while their government was getting underway, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there and schools. And they built their support by having done so," Romney said. "That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest toward modernity and goodness and freedom for all people of the world."

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden sought to add context, saying the former Massachusetts governor did not intend to praise Hezbollah but was simply expounding on a proposal he made in April for a "second Marshall Plan" to strengthen "democratic underpinnings" in places vulnerable to Islamic extremism. "Essentially, he believes we have to combat the efforts of Hezbollah and Hamas in making sure that our military and civilian organizations do these things better than the terrorists do," Madden said.

Such talk is music to the ears of foreign policy and defense heavyweights who, in an effort organized by the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, are urging the candidates to talk about how they would use nonmilitary means to rebuild the country's image and improve its security. A letter signed last week by former Republican appointees Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Frank C. Carlucci, James A. Baker III and Tom Ridge, among others, argues that the country must revitalize its "moral leadership" and do more to "strengthen democratic governance, harness economic potential, alleviate global poverty and improve human conditions."

"The U.S. must use smart power -- elevating diplomacy and development assistance while integrating them with our economic policies, defense and intelligence activities," they wrote. "We cannot rely on military power alone to make our nation secure."

-- Alec MacGillis


Slate, Huffington, Yahoo Sponsor Online-Only Democratic Debate

Admit it. You can't wait for the next presidential debate. You've been going cold turkey since the CNN-YouTube extravaganza last week.

Well, all eight Democratic presidential contenders will be showing up for yet another session, but this one will be online only. Two liberal Web sites -- Slate (owned by The Washington Post Co.) and the Huffington Post -- are teaming up with Yahoo to stage the Sept. 12 face-off in cyberspace. It may be new media, but the moderator will be old-media TV host Charlie Rose.

The irrepressible Arianna Huffington calls it a candidate "mash-up" -- meaning that Rose will ask questions submitted by online readers and you, the junkie, will be able to watch the parts you want.

What about the Republican candidates, who still haven't committed to a CNN-You Tube sequel? They are said to be in "discussions" about joining the mash-up.

-- Howard Kurtz

<       2

© 2007 The Washington Post Company