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The Soft-Power Fallacy

- Abstract

In May, Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to West Point’s 2010 graduating class and offered high praise for the accomplishments of the American military—including the most unabashed appreciation of the achievement of U.S. forces in Iraq he has ever put forth. “This is what success looks like,” he said, “an Iraq that provides no safe-haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.” But before an audience of some 1,000 men and women in uniform, the commander in chief chose to focus on the nonmilitary dimension of advancing America’s interests.

“We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country,” he said. “We have to make sure that America is building on its strengths.” Foremost, this will require “steps we take at home.” Such steps include a concentration on child education, developing clean energy, and unlocking the mysteries of science. Abroad, a vigorous engagement effort will keep us from “stepping out of the currents of cooperation.”

About the Author

Abe Greenwald is associate editor of COMMENTARY.