Pentagon employees have received millions of dollars in free travel and lodging from foreign countries, trade groups and companies with an interest in shaping policies or doing business with the U.S. military.
For a half-hour, the Boeing 747 and F-16 jet circled the Statue of Liberty and the Financial District near the World Trade Center site. Offices evacuated. Dispatchers were inundated with calls. Witnesses thought the planes were flying dangerously low. But the flyover was nothing but a photo op, apparently one of a series of flights to get pictures of the plane in front of national landmarks. It was carried out by the Defense Department with little warning, infuriating New York officials and putting the White House on the defense.
President Barack Obama leaned heavily toward field commanders' preferences in settling a time frame for ending the war in Iraq, as he weighed the fervent desires of the anti-war community that propelled him into office and the equally strong worries of the generals commanding troops in the war zone.
Diplomacy now trumps defense as the main instrument of American foreign policy. At least that is the intent that President Barack Obama and his change-minded secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, spelled out on their first days. They made clear that the military will be a prominent - but no longer dominant - tool for achieving U.S. goals abroad.
Robert Burns and Anne Flaherty
, January 24, 2009
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