President Theodore Roosevelt : The Power Of The United States Military

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The Bigger Stick Doesn’t Always Win President Theodore Roosevelt, well known for his extraordinary, worldly diplomatic skills, was quoted as saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” During the early twentieth century, he brandished that big stick, or convincingly threatened to, with remarkable efficacy in support of his country’s political objectives. The big stick that President Roosevelt carried with him as a diplomat and Commander in Chief was the superior power of the United States military. “Historically, power has been measured by such criteria as population size and territory, natural resources, economic strength, military force, and social stability. Hard power enables countries to wield carrots and sticks to get what they want.”1 Power, a nation’s ability to influence other states to achieve a desired outcome, manifests in numerous different forms or elements within a state. Powerful states strive to employ all the elements of power, including diplomacy, information, economic, cultural, and most importantly military to further their national objectives. Although a reasonable person might expect that a militarily powerful state routinely triumphs over the weaker state in matters of war, superior military power only guarantees a victory on paper, not in any real war. This paper will show that when one considers a state’s relative military power, weaker states are capable of defeating more powerful states that struggle to formulate

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