Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage spoke earlier this week at the Missouri Boys State, an event that was held on the campus of the University of Central Missouri. During the question and answer period, Armitage was asked about President Obama’s “softer force when dealing with other nations.” “Mr. Obama is in some ways presenting a much better face to the world. I wouldn’t call it a soft face, I’d call it a smart face,” Armitage replied. He then took a subtle dig at President Bush:
ARMITAGE: I think he’s using both our soft and hard power in a more intelligent way. [...] I think he’s using our power more intelligently. And using all the tools in our kit box now, in our tool box. Mr. Bush just used sanctions and force. And I think this gives us a better opportunity to prevail. What is soft power? It’s the ability to attract. You want to persuade, you want to attract them. Hard power is coercive. Well, force them to do something. If you can attract people I think it’s always better. It seems to last longer.
Earlier in the discussion, Armitage said he disagrees with Vice President Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration adding that he should “pipe down.” “I think it’s unseemly,” Armitage said. Later, referring to Colin Powell’s criticism of Republican Party, Armitage said that Powell is just trying to get the GOP to stop acting “like a bunch of knuckleheads.”