LINCOLN — Drone use and intervention in other countries' political conflicts are some of the more debated facets of American military operations overseas, but they're necessary instruments of U.S. foreign policy in the eyes of a top Pentagon official from Nebraska.
“Despite the mistakes we've made, despite the fact that we don't get it right every time, the United States is a force for good,” Derek Chollet said. “More often than not, all these big problems are not going to be solved without the United States.”
Chollet outlined aspects of U.S. military strategy and foreign policy, and his own worldview at Tuesday night's E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
For almost a year, Chollet has answered to fellow Nebraskan Chuck Hagel as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Chollet was joined on the stage by Andrew Bacevich, an author and a Boston University professor of international relations.
The men discussed issues such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Syrian and Libyan uprisings, and American policing of the world.
Chollet, 43, opened with a reference to afternoons spent at Memorial Stadium in his youth. He went on to outline Hagel's strategic priorities for the years ahead.
As defense secretary, Hagel plans on keeping the country's military “agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced” but on a tighter budget, he said.
“Make no mistake, the world remains a very dangerous place,” Chollet said. “This doesn't mean that using military force is always the best way to achieve our goals, nor should the use of force be unlimited.”
Bacevich, on the other hand, advocated major changes in U.S. defense policy and the American military mindset as a whole.
“If you want to drive a stake through something, then go after the concept of 'American exceptionalism,'” he said. “Go after this notion that we are called upon to save the world.”
But Chollet said he hadn't encountered countries asking the United States to be less involved. “In every meeting I'm in, they're asking for more.”