us military soft power, humanitarian missions, humanitarian military
Robert Scheer, The Indianapolis Star/AP

U.S. Military Prioritizes Soft Power in Middle East

July 31, 2008 10:13 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Partly to win allies, the Pentagon has reasserted its humanitarian intentions; but can altruistic missions in unstable Iraq and Africa truly succeed?

30-Second Summary

According to The Boston Globe, U.S. military strategists have “learned the limits of force in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and have begun “rewriting decades-old military doctrine to place humanitarian missions on par with combat.”

Pentagon officials and military commanders have said humanitarian plans are being used to regain the trust of the international community and entice new allies.

Past humanitarian efforts in Iraq have been somewhat successful, but at times, results and action have not kept up with intentions. General instability and inconsistent humanitarian work have also stymied efforts.

Funding complicates matters, as well. The Pentagon has committed large sums of money to weapons, but the next president faces the challenge of allocating resources to humanitarian efforts, as well.

The U.S. military has been praised for its past humanitarian efforts in Pakistan and Indonesia after natural disasters, and some feel that altruism is the best way to build and maintain a positive relationship with international Muslim communities.

Others worry that without changes to the way military spending is dealt with by the government, a more humanitarian approach to foreign policy will never get off the ground.

Headline Link: Altruistic emphasis

Background: Past humanitarian efforts

Related Topics: Mission in Africa; defense spending

Opinion & Analysis: Humanitarianism cheerleaders and skeptics


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