Austin’s comments fit the general pattern of a shift toward soft power, outsourcing imperial functions to client state and proxy forces, and greater reliance on technology.
NAVAL STATION PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — In his first major speech as Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin on Friday called for developing a “new vision” for American defense in the face of emerging cyber and space threats and the prospect of fighting bigger wars.
Reflecting President Joe Biden’s promise to put diplomacy first in dealing with foreign policy problems, Austin said the military should provide leverage that diplomats can use to prevent conflict. His comments suggested a contrast with what critics call the militarization of U.S. foreign policy in recent decades.
“U.S. military isn’t meant to stand apart, but to buttress U.S. diplomacy and advance a foreign policy that employs all of our instruments of national power,” Austin said.
He chose to spell out his ideas at Pearl Harbor, at the center of U.S. military power in the Indo-Pacific region, reflecting U.S. concerns that China’s rapid modernization and growing assertiveness make it a powerful adversary. Notably, Austin in his speech did not explicitly mention China or North Korea.