By Steve Hammons
In discussions about the ideas of hard power, soft power and smart power, several observers have pointed out that the term soft power may not be a good name for this worthwhile, sound and valuable concept.
The word soft sometimes implies weak, flabby or inadequate characteristics in several kinds of contexts.
A term that truly embodies soft power and also includes hard and smart power elements is “transcendent power.”
This refers to the concept of “transcendent warfare” that is based on the idea of embracing and utilizing emerging and leading-edge assets and resources.
The term transcendent warfare was used by a U.S. Navy SEAL officer in a graduate-level paper written for the Marine Corps War College. Although the paper focused, in part, on research and development by the U.S. defense and intelligence communities into human perceptual capabilities, the author seemed to indicate that transcendent warfare goes beyond any narrow definitions.
We might think of transcendent power as the blending and optimization of a range of resources and methods typically associated with both soft power and hard power.
TAKING THE HIGH GROUND
Since transcendent warfare is often associated with unconventional intelligence acquisition and human consciousness research, the concept could be viewed as an "outside-the-box" idea. It is. It is the kind of innovative and forward-leaning thinking that can be very helpful.
At the same time, it is not easily defined or explained.
The idea of transcendent power would include the use of public diplomacy, American cultural resources, humanitarian operations, peace operations, human-based intelligence (HUMINT), constructive and non-manipulative psychological operations (PSYOP), open source intelligence (OSINT), special operations forces, unconventional operations, conventional defense resources, advanced technologies and various other assets.
In addition, transcendent power would dovetail with the emerging and developing nature of American society, the international community, the human race, Planet Earth and other elements that may not yet be fully understood.
Transcendent power weaves together these elements in ways that are creative, innovative and geared toward legitimate, moral and ethical objectives.
In its purest form, transcendent power by its very nature probably cannot be considered part of optional wars based on illegitimate intelligence, military actions to obtain natural resources, unwise sacrificing of the lives and limbs of our military personnel and the resulting devastation for their families, unnecessary killing and injuring of innocents, torture, war profiteering and vainglorious military adventures launched by "chicken hawks."
ASSERTIVE AND PROACTIVE
Some elements of soft power can be viewed as passive approaches. Attempts are made to attract potential friends, neutral parties and potential adversaries to your own point of view based on the attractiveness of your culture and other components of your society.
Transcendent power might be considered to be more assertive and proactive. It actively embraces leading-edge knowledge, advancements and understanding.
Transcendent power reaches out and touches friends, neutral parties and adversaries.
Transcendent power allies itself with, and is part of a fundamental and dominant force. It dominates human terrain by its association with, and basis in core knowledge of human consciousness and the forces that human consciousness is connected to.
It has characteristics that require a certain understanding. The SEAL officer who wrote the paper referencing transcendent warfare noted that there are Zen-like qualities to it that require an insightful perspective to appreciate some of the possibilities involved with it.
Learning about the interesting research in quantum physics, human consciousness and unconventional intelligence acquisition research and operations is a good beginning toward comprehending the potential of transcendent power.
Soft power is a valuable concept. The idea of smart power, which blends soft power and hard power is another worthy term.
Transcendent power moves us to the next level in our quest for progress on many fronts in the 21st century.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By Steve Hammons