America Still Needs Hard Power, and the Willingness to Use It

In The Big Stick, Eliot A. Cohen argues that the United States needs to maintain its global primacy and leadership on the international stage—above all to guarantee its own interests. Contrary to those who have become overly enamored with “soft power,” Cohen believes that the U.S. can only succeed if it has the ability and the willingness to use military force. Mackubin Thomas Owens writes in his review:

Cohen also assesses the four major challenges we face: the rise of China, the continuing threat from assorted jihadist movements, “dangerous states” such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and the challenge posed by “ungoverned space” and the “commons”—that is to say, the maritime realm, space, and cyberspace, which no one state or alliance rules or controls. China clearly tops his list of challenges, but we ignore others at our peril.

The problem is that the American hand, as strong as it is, is hard pressed to respond to all the challenges simultaneously. An important role of strategy is to establish priorities, and deciding how to allocate military power in response to these diverse threats will be the great strategic challenge for the foreseeable future. . . .

Indeed, the Obama administration’s retreat from primacy provides a preview of . . . a fragmented globe in which our friends and allies are making the best deals they can because they no longer have faith in the United States while our adversaries act aggressively, constantly probing for weaknesses.

The idea that the use of military power is at odds with the arc of history is equally absurd. Its use must be governed by prudence, but it cannot be unilaterally dismissed as an instrument of statecraft. For too long, American policymakers have acted as if diplomacy alone is sufficient to achieve our foreign-policy goals; but to cite Frederick the Great, . . . “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” Policymakers need to relearn the lesson that diplomacy and force are two sides of the same coin.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Grand Strategy, History & Ideas, U.S. Foreign policy, U.S. military

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy