In favor of a diplomatic approach:
Think of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country in 1803, or the formation of NATO and the Bretton Woods economic institutions, equally farsighted acts that enhanced American influence. Similarly, the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty slowed the spread of nuclear weapons and made it easier to monitor states with nuclear ambitions. The list goes on: Richard Nixon’s opening to China in 1972 tilted the balance of power in our favor and helped smooth the United States’ exit from Vietnam; Jimmy Carter’s stewardship of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty ended a conflict that had produced four wars since 1948. Adroit diplomacy managed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. More recently, patient negotiations led to an agreement with Iran that reversed its progress toward a nuclear bomb.Opposed to a military approach:
Mr. Trump’s deference to the military, meanwhile, is hard to square with its track record. The United States had more than half a million troops in Vietnam at the peak of the war and still lost. The 1991 Persian Gulf war was a short-term triumph but did not yield a stable peace. The 2003 invasion of Iraq led to a costly quagmire, to enhanced Iranian influence and, eventually, to the creation of the Islamic State. The American military has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years, and the Taliban today controls more territory than at any time since 2001. United States airstrikes helped drive Muammar el-Qaddafi from power in Libya in 2011, and the country is now a failed state.