The US seems to be stuck in the Cold War. We see the only way to make allies is to pick a side in a country and arm and train them to defeat the other side. As has been our model for decades we pick someone to lead these countries and of course it’s usually someone that has been educated in the west and is someone we like as opposed to someone that the people of the country like. It has never worked out well.
The fall of the Soviet Union taught a lot of lessons to our foes around the world. We defeated them by bankrupting them. Our adversaries realized that “investing” in military hardware was not a bright idea.
Fast forward to 2017. Our former adversaries have been concentrating on economic growth. They had discovered that it is easier and more profitable to gain geopolitical influence with economic power than military power.
For those who question the concept of trade as a weapon, you just need to look at South Korea and China. South Korea exports a lot of goods to China. When we forced the South Koreans to install the Thaad system in their country, China saw it as a threat. Oddly enough, South Korea’s exports to China were turned off. Huge economic impact on South Korea. Read more here.