Sure, the United States has the world's most powerful military. But President Obama's reluctance to use it is hardly a sign of pessimism or weakness, it's "realistic wisdom," writes Ian Buruma at al-Jazeera. "Old-fashioned military dominance is no longer adequate to promote US interests." Propping up dictators around the Middle East only fueled Islamic extremism, which cannot be beaten with troops or drones. Instead, Buruma points to China, which is gaining influence in Africa not through force but by money.
American military might have helped keep the world safe from communism during the Cold War, but today's threats are very different. Hawks who want the United States to use its power to preserve the world order are "deeply reactionary," writes Buruma. "It is a form of Cold War nostalgia." Today, Europe and Japan are now wealthy enough to take responsibility for their own security, but "as long as Uncle Sam continues to police the world, his children won't grow up," says Buruma. (Read more Ian Buruma stories.)