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Military power: The uses of force | The Economist


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“AMATEURS TALK STRATEGY, professionals talk capacity.” Jeremy Shapiro, who recently left the State Department to join the Brookings Institution in Washington, has put his finger on a central question for foreign policy. For the liberal, open-market system to endure is in America’s interest—and in the general interest, too. America does not yet face a direct challenge from China and Russia. But as the dominant power it must be able and willing to maintain the system, or norms will fray and tensions grow. Does it have the capacity?

The question forces itself on policymakers just now because the demands placed on American primacy have changed. In the cold war, explains John Ikenberry, an academic, America provided security and other services to many countries. But the threat is no longer so great and security is therefore no longer so valuable. For many countries in large parts of the world, the past decade has been not about war and financial crisis but about peace and prosperity. Those countries want more of a say.

If most future battles occur economically and in cyberspace, does the military have a place in those battles?

It makes more sense to me to say, when examining the aggregate record after the Marshall Plan, that America provided (and still provides) security to our domestic business interests in many countries.

If the US had consistently chosen to stick up for countries that lacked a strong alignment with significant US commercial or strategic interests then we would have been able to articulate and see evidence of a more coherent foreign policy, but we haven't and can't.

And for at least the last 30 years we've been primarily involved in any number of military and political engagements that can only be best explained by pecuniary interests, rather than the advancement of any moral or ethical platform evidenced at home or abroad.

And I still love this country, my country, above all others.  Sigh.

So, whether or not countries want more of a say is, in my humble opinion, mostly irrelevant.  Wherever multinational business interests, megabucks and military might intersect is where capacity and policies will align to be drawn and set in war or peace times.

Rob, well said.

This piece (link below) from National Interest did impact my view. I'm likely butchering it by trying to summarize, but the point made by the author is that the President is first and foremost responsible to the American people, so the first priority will always be American interests. Sometimes the actions taken will seem to be moral, but they are only secondarily moral. 

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-tragedy-us-foreign-policy-8810?page=show

The encroaching idea that the self-interests of evolving Americanism as both a place and political philosophy is not based on moral covenants is precisely the problem.

There is no such thing as secondarily moral.  

The reason America is America is precisely because of our original moral doctrine and the struggles we've faced trying to live up to it the past couple centuries.  

Whether or not we, the American people in both business and politics, succeed in adhering to our originating philosophy, or instead choose to become less moral in the future, is something else all together... 

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