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Criticizing presidents for weakness is a standard trope in Washington because the world is a messy place and, when bad things happen, Washington can be blamed for them. But to determine what America – and Obama – should be doing, we have to first understand the nature of the world and the dangers within it.In this context, presidents had to continually act and do things to reassure allies.America's military spending is about that of the next 14 countries combined, most of which are treaty allies of Washington.The Obama administration is in fact deeply internationalist – building on alliances in Europe and Asia, working with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, isolating adversaries and strengthening the global order that has proved so beneficial to the United States and the world since 1945 .After all, just six years ago, America's closest allies were distancing themselves from Washington because it was seen as aggressive, expansionist and militaristic.Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington that the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force.
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