Frankly, I think the last decade or so has shown the extreme limits of hard power and the desperate need for more public diplomacy, national re-branding and some shrewd maneuvering to advance the interests of the West and to help avoid what could be a catastrophic era in global politics. I still believe in the prudent use of military force, and the need to keep a threat of such force in diplomacy. But the great challenge of the war against Jihadist terror is shifting the psyches of countless young Muslims, from Pakistan to Morocco. That we have chance to do that with this president is itself testimony to democracy's capacity for correcting mistakes and the strength of its ethnic and cultural diversity in appealing to the wider world.
Great post, apart from the idiocy of using "branding" jargon. Something that has got almost as much out of hand as dramaturgical metaphors. (I for example am a gay man. I am not "branded" as gay, nor do a I play a "gay" role. In fact I am, at least temporarily a fat guy living in a council house who spends too much time on the internet. What makes me gay is not branding, or roles, but that I have a strong preference for other men in sexual and romantic relationships.)