There is no question that the U.S. remains a military superpower. In 2007, the U.S. spent more on defense than the next 14 highest spending countries combined. Within the U.S. government, there are more military band members than foreign service officers.
Many have welcomed the Obama administration’s greater focus on a “whole of government” approach–ensuring that the work of development, diplomacy and defense personnel is better integrated. But because the size and capacity of the Defense Department is so much greater than any other agency, when this coordination takes place, it is the military who takes the leading role.
In the long run, a foreign policy built on mutual relationships and trust is much more likely to bring about true security. This does not fit conveniently within the short-term mindset of officials focused on the next election cycle. But it would go a lot further toward resolving the conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere than boasting about our dominance as a superpower.
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