Bush made it stronger for the US to be perceived weaker under the Obama administration.
"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." `Thomas Jefferson
I'd say the nadir was the second term of Bush. Perception of toughness has increased slightly since then.
we can maintain a formidable peacetime arsenal on much less than what we're currently spending. then we can reallocate resources to address domestic issues.