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NICHOLAS BURNS

Military’s limits show need for America’s neglected weapon

THE ATTACKS of 9/11 brought us a decade of war with the seemingly endless and bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan — the most intensive period of US military deployments in our history. But, we may now be entering a decade of diplomacy as we learn that military power is not always the answer for many of the difficult problems ahead.

That was just one of the major insights from last weekend’s citizen-led Camden Conference, which I moderated this year. Legions of local volunteers succeeded in attracting academics, journalists, and former government officials to cold and snowy Camden on the Maine coast in the middle of February. More than 900 people filled Camden’s venerable 19th-century Opera House and theaters linked to it in Rockland, Belfast, and Ellsworth to debate war and peace in the Middle East. What I heard consistently was the need for the United States to find a way to negotiate with and outwit our adversaries rather than fight them.

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