US defense boss seeks to put diplomacy ahead of military might

By REUTERS
February 1, 2014 15:27

 
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The top US defense official on Saturday underscored the Obama administration's intention to shift the focus of its foreign policy away from military might toward diplomacy.

Speaking at the Munich security conference, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he and Secretary of State John Kerry "have both worked to restore balance to the relationship between American defense and diplomacy."

Hagel, in prepared remarks, stressed that the United States was "moving off a 13-year war footing" as the war in Afghanistan winds down and as Washington seeks to avoid getting involved in additional military conflicts overseas.

Hagel's remarks echo those of President Barack Obama, who in his annual State of the Union address this week said the United States could not rely on its military power alone, promising to send US troops to fight overseas only when "truly necessary."

In recent years, the United States has shown its eagerness to wind down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the military dominated traditionally civilian-led activities such as development aid.

US officials have also sought to avoid becoming involved in new on-the-ground military action in places like Syria and Libya.

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