In July, Defense Secretary Robert F. Gates approved a new national defense strategy that formally made the war against terrorists the overriding priority. It emphasized the role of allies and partners in a
world in which, as many have said, the United States is still the most powerful country but no longer overwhelmingly powerful by itself. The sort of large-war projects that currently occupy much of the defense budget will have to be cut. To the extent that such projects are insurance against a future collision with China or Russia, the document reportedly recommends cooperation to reduce competition.
Mr. Gates also argues that while military power is vital, what many now call "soft" power will be extremely important in this fight. Although no central policy document written so late in the current administration can survive the coming election intact, the new strategy will probably help shape any defense debate that develops early in the next administration, and so will likely have lasting impact.