The “creeping militarization” of U.S. Foreign Policy

I find this news to be good news for the U.S.  as it recognizes what I also think is a problem with our foreign policy.   Unfortunately the U.S.  has had a “if the only tool you have is a hammer than every problem looks like a nail” approach to foreign policy.  We have acted as if the U.S. military can and should solve every world crisis and as if the military is the only way we can deal with the world.  Whatever the issue our executive leaders have come to think the military is the onlcy solution or that the military can handle every need.    I’m glad to see our Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speak against this form of thinking.   This is from the U.S. Department of Defense news:

Gates Highlights Role of Diplomacy, Development in U.S. Foreign Policy

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday said diplomacy and development should lead American efforts abroad, and he warned against a “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy. Video

“Broadly speaking, when it comes to America’s engagement with the rest of the world, it is important that the military is — and is clearly seen to be — in a supporting role to civilian agencies,” he said.

In a speech interrupted several times by rousing applause, Gates told the audience at a dinner organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign that America cannot simply “kill or capture our way to victory” over the long term.

“What the Pentagon calls ‘kinetic’ operations should be subordinate to measures to promote participation in government, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies and among the discontented from which terrorists recruit,” he said.

For far too long, Gates said, America’s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development — which lack the ready-made political constituency enjoyed by major weapons systems — have been chronically undermanned and underfunded in comparison to defense spending.

With invigorated emphasis on counterinsurgency, which includes operations that combine elements of military and civilian affairs, U.S. servicemembers are performing functions that formerly were the exclusive province of civilian agencies and institutions, Gates said.

“This has led to concern among many organizations … about what’s seen as a creeping ‘militarization’ of some aspects of America’s foreign policy,” he said.

But Gates added that this scenario can be avoided by putting in place the right leadership, adequate funding of civilian agencies, effective coordination on the ground, and a clear understanding of the authorities, roles, and missions of military versus civilian efforts, and how they are able, or unable, to fit together.

2 thoughts on “The “creeping militarization” of U.S. Foreign Policy

  1. Pingback: The Presidency: “Commander in Chief” and, or versus “Leader of the Free World”? « Fr. Ted’s Blog

  2. Pingback: Super Power: Is the ‘Bomb’ America’s True or Only Strength? « Fr. Ted’s Blog

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