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After 9/11 anniversary: the return of US diplomacy

The US has relied on the military to hit back when attacked or even threatened; to place first priority on building up defenses; to sometimes shoot first, ask questions later. But the most difficult challenges ahead will require greater reliance on diplomacy and traditional statecraft.

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America’s 9/11 commemoration reminds us what an unusual decade it has been for the United States on the world stage.

During these last 10 years, the US has fought two major land wars simultaneously. It has conducted an aggressive, controversial, and dangerous military campaign against terrorist groups from Iraq to the Afghan/Pakistan border to Somalia and Yemen. And America has transformed the way it defends itself from the terrorist threat at home and overseas.

The US has relied on the military to hit back when attacked or even threatened, to place first priority on building up defenses, and to sometimes shoot first and ask questions later. Much of this made sense in the months immediately following the shocking new threat that appeared with such sudden and terrible force in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

Different challenges require different policies

But, the years ahead look to present far different challenges for America’s global leadership role, requiring both a vastly changed mindset and dramatically different policies in Washington.

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