Monday, April 13, 2009

Defense vs. State

A story in the New York Times in the Week in Review section talked about the reassertion of the civilian role in US foreign policy ( Under Secretary of State Clinton, one of the goals of the State Department is to reassert its centrality in making foreign policy. The article notes that for the past eight years, Rumsfeld sidelined Secretaries Powell and Rice and dominated the country's interaction with the world and the military also took on roles traditionally reserved for diplomats like overseeing reconstruction and development projects. Richard Holbrooke has and is willing to use a whole range of tools like diplomacy, persuasion, and money. It also talks about how Holbrooke and Admiral Mullen make a good team talking to parties in the region. Admiral Mullen himself has decried the militarization of American foreign policy and believes that the State Department should retake many traditional roles of foreign policy.
An astonishing fact mentioned is that the State Department has less diplomats working around the globe than musicians playing in military bands. The Pentagon's budget is 24 times larger than the State Department and USAID's combined.

1 comment:

  1. The number of diplomats versus military band members (or DOD lawyers) is only part of the iceberg. Unfortunately, it's the only part that people tend to look at. Ignored is that DOD has enough people to have a significant percentage of the force in training at military schools like the Army War College, Leavenworth, Naval College, Marine Corps U, Air U, and private schools from GW to USC and in-between.

    When comparing Defense and State, move beyond the old hash of number of people and get to something more interesting, and still related to the education point above. What about comparing the transparency of State and Defense in the areas of foreign affairs and public diplomacy and strategic communication? Beyond the reality that Defense openly talks about such things as their desire for American public diplomacy to stop wearing combat boots, they have open forums with and at academia on how to engage populations. How much do you know about State's mission besides press releases after the fact?