The Militarization of Policy

My goodness. It was just this morning that I left this comment to a post at Outside the Beltway:

My own view is that a lot of selling will need to be done to get the American people to go along with anything other than increasingly violent “whack-a-mole”. I don’t see any political support from either side of the aisle for significantly increased engagement with the Middle East/Southwest Asia.

Specifically, I don’t see a wave of support to remove our military from Iraq and replace them with significant numbers of diplomats and developers, what Tom Barnett calls a “Sys Admin force”.

and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates implicitly makes a pitch, cited in the Washington Post, for just such an effort:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.

“We cannot kill or capture our way to victory” in the long-term campaign against terrorism, Gates said, arguing that military action should be subordinate to political and economic efforts to undermine extremism.

Americans have traditionally been allergic to “increased engagement”, however prudent it might be. Is there a great push for enhanced political and economic engagement with Iraq once our troops have been withdrawn from the country? If so, I’m not seeing it. There may be rhetorical support for the idea from the Obama campaign but I suspect that it will be difficult to get much through a Congress that’s more concerned with bringing home the bacon and, coincidentally, being reelected than about advancing America’s grand strategy through enhanced diplomacy and economic engagement.

There are also those who oppose America’s “neo-liberal agenda” root and branch. For them such things are the job of the UN. Is there a groundswell of opinion for increased support for the United Nations?

There are other political barriers. I doubt that the general staff will be much amused by the idea of reducing their budgets to give the money to State.

I also think it’s important to recognize that the entrenched powers that be in other countries don’t like our missionary activities, whether the missionaries are religious, social, economic, or political.

1 comment… add one
  • Andy Link

    I see Gate’s comments as simply a return to the status quo. Under Rumsfeld, the DoD expanded its scope too far, IMO, into areas like covert humint and diplomacy. Africom is a perfect example of this – ostensibly it’s supposed to be a multi-agency effort, yet it’s still primarily a military command. IMO, the military should not be the lead agency for such efforts. Perhaps if it was called the “Africa Project” and was headed by State, there wouldn’t be quite so much opposition to Africom in Africa.

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