It has become common knowledge that Washington's foreign policy largely depends on its use of military power; according to Nikolas K. Gvosdev, the incoming Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the US Naval War College, "the military instrument" is no panacea for the country's geopolitical problems.
"Indeed, one of the tendencies in American national security policy over the last sixteen years has been increasing militarization of the US response — and the shrinking of available options to an unpalatable binary choice between using force or doing nothing," Gvosdev writes in his analysis for the National Interest.
However, "the military instrument is insufficient to achieve all of these tasks," Gvosdev emphasizes.
The scholar cites Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris, who call for the use of "economic instruments" to accomplish "geopolitical objectives" in their book "War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft."
"It seems odd that the United States — which has one of the world's most lucrative markets, has vast reserves of capital for investment, controls the world's reserve currency and has done a great deal to set the rules of the global business order — chooses not to use these powers much more effectively," Gvosdev argues, adding that even China and Russia have already embraced the economic tool to gain influence on the world arena.
He underscores that Washington should also adopt a new vision toward its global partners, "expanding the definition of states that matter" to the US' national interests from security partners to so-called "keystone states."
Gvosdev explains what a "keystone state" means in his article for the CIRSD (The Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development).
"As the name implies, a keystone state gives coherence to a regional order — or, if it is itself destabilized, contributes to the insecurity of its neighbors. Such countries are important because they are located at the seams of the global system and serve as critical mediators between different major powers, acting as gateways between different blocs of states, regional associations, and civilizational groupings," he wrote in autumn 2015.
"Increasingly, they [keystone states] will emerge as the most important of the 'capable partners' identified by the 2015 National Security Strategy," Gvosdev added.
The US scholar poses the question: will the future American presidential administration adopt this new and well-balanced approach? He argues that "the prosperity of ordinary Americans is tied up with the maintenance of the current global system."
In one of his latest articles for Consortiumnews.com, Gilbert Doctorow, the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd., stresses that "the judicious use of American power" should become the essence of the US foreign policy.
In his turn, Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, called attention to the fact that the US military interventionism only mars the country's international image.
"What doesn't work is military intervention (aka 'foreign-imposed regime change')," he stressed in his April Op-Ed for Foreign Policy magazine.
And American historian Andrew J. Bacevich asks in his analysis for Politico Magazine:
"To reflect on this longest of American wars — why it goes on and on, and at such a cost of blood and treasure — is to confront two questions… In short, why can't we win? And since we haven't won, why can't we get out?"
Isn't it time for the US to turn swords into ploughs?