The Plank

The Military And "soft Power"

The Center
for U.S. Global Engagement
has just released the results of a new poll
of U.S. military officers (both active and recently retired) on current U.S.
security strategy, and its findings are pretty surprising: According to a
majority of those polled, the overriding foreign policy concern of the
nation--after "forcefully" defending itself from serious security threats--must
be to "restore respect for U.S. around [the] world." What's more, according to
the armed forces' top brass, the second highest national security priority
(behind improved counter-insurgency training) must be to strengthen our
diplomatic standing around the globe and to improve our efforts to "cooperate"
with others.This is, of course, for strategic, not sentimental, reasons:
According to more than three-quarters of the officers queried, the level of
respect for the U.S. abroad makes "a lot of difference" to its ability to
achieve military objectives.

The reason for all of this emphasis on diplomacy
and global opinion in contrast to traditional armed power? Perhaps because, as
the findings of the poll show, the military officer corps still sees terrorism
overwhelmingly as the greatest threat to American security, and recognizes,
rightly so, the insufficiency of "hard" power alone to meeting the complexities
of this challenge. Only a very small minority of the officers cited major
regional powers, like China, as significant security concerns. And only seven percent of those polled saw Iran as posing the
primary threat to U.S. security.

Contra his critics, Obama might cite these
findings in support of his call
for "a new era of international cooperation": Is global approval still "overrated"
if it is so highly valued by our nation's top soldiers?

--James Martin

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