The Public Interest

When policy outstrips power—American strategy and statecraft

Eliot A. Cohen

Spring 1984

WHERE or not they have lived up to it, American statesmen have always insisted on the need to integrate military capabilities and foreign policy. As a homeowner should be careful to buy a house whose mortgage payments he can afford, it has been held, so should a state undertake only those foreign policy commitments it has the resources and will to make good on. But by now, there is a substantial and articulate (though far from public) school of thought that holds that we must set aside questions of foreign policy before tackling issues of defense. This school argues that the attempt to link strategy tightly to foreign policy is chimerical, a waste of effort and time.

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