Date of Award

December 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Steven B. Redd

Committee Members

Shale Horowitz, Robert J. Beck, Natasha B. Sugiyama, Grace Chikoto


American Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Decision-Making, International Relations, NGOs, Soft Power, War on Terror


Bringing together foreign policy literature and INGO (international non-governmental organization) scholarship, this dissertation seeks to explain geographic and temporal variation in the US government's use of hard, soft and smart power in the War on Terror. Making an important theoretical contribution, I revise Nye's concept of soft power, more rigorously conceptualizing it as a consciously-utilized strategy employing methods other than hard power (military or economic sanctions) to influence a target government or population to enhance US interests. Soft power is a strategic means of achieving a foreign policy goal. I conceptualize smart power as including both soft and hard power, whose proportions will vary by context. I argue that the US executive begins its counter-terrorism strategizing with an assessment of the terrorist threat from a particular country. The US executive will use hard power to fight a short-term terrorist threat, soft power to fight a long-term terrorist threat, and smart (i.e., combined) power to fight a combined threat. The political, economic, and NGO regulatory context of a country also influence the kind and degree of soft power the US executive uses in countries posing a long-term or combined threat, ultimately influencing the smart power makeup of US counter-terrorism strategy in such countries. I examine a particular form of US soft power: government funding of NGOs. I explore the theoretical and empirical interest of NGOs, arguing that US soft or smart power utilizing NGOs will be impacted by their goals, capabilities, and the government's relationship with them. Employing qualitative methods, I provide a big-picture overview of US strategy in the War on Terror, as well as country case studies of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This project presents and tests a relevant, innovative, integrated theory of US foreign policy strategizing, making theoretical and empirical contributions to foreign policy and INGO literatures.