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We’ve Moved! Check out “The Will and the Wallet” October 12, 2010

Posted by bfadtest in News.
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Stimson Center’s project on budgeting for foreign affairs and defense is pleased to announce the re-launch of blog under the banner The Will and the Wallet. This new outlet will allow us to elevate our profile even further, in part by featuring guest contributors more prominently and by presenting more multimedia content.  A grand roll-out is soon to come, and we are already beginning the transition. New material will continue to appear here until mid-October, but the full posts can only be accessed at our newly revamped and renamed blog.  Thank you for reading, and enjoy!!

New look, new name–same great stuff. We look forward to seeing you on The Will and the Wallet.


State Fragility: Putting Our Mind and our Money Where our Mouth Is October 12, 2010

Posted by Guest Blogger in Uncategorized.
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By Dr. Pauline H. Baker, President of the Fund for Peace

Since the end of the Cold War, and especially after September 11, 2001, foreign policy experts have come to realize that the problem of failing states should be one of our top national security priorities. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that: “In the decades to come, the most lethal threats to the United States safety and security are likely to emanate from states that cannot adequately govern themselves or secure their own territory. Dealing with such fractured or failing sates is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time.”

Despite such warnings, U.S. foreign policy has not sufficiently adjusted to this new reality. Our foreign assistance programs are weak with respect to strengthening state capacity, subordinated to the two main themes that dominate our foreign aid: fighting terrorism and fighting poverty. For example, country breakdowns show that aid to weak states does not match the rankings in the Failed States Index, even when we remove states with sanctions, such as Sudan, and those in which the U.S. has special national security interests, such as Pakistan.. READ MORE

Anticipating the national security priorities of the 112th Congress October 12, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Uncategorized.
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By Matthew Leatherman, Rebecca Williams, Laura Hall, Hans-Inge Lango, and Elizabeth Cutler

Come November, the Republicans look set to win back the House and make significant gains in the Senate.  That switch has major implications for a number of domestic issues – but it says surprisingly little about the 112th Congress’ national security priorities.  In this area more so than any other, ideology cuts within parties more than it unifies them.

This is not a new phenomenon. Both parties have various factions that see defense and foreign policy, and thus spending, in different ways. The terms “libertarian” and “exceptionalist” or “realist” and “Wilsonian” mean far more in this debate than… READ MORE

Turn the question around: Secretary Gates’s speech on the all-volunteer force October 8, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveled to Duke last week with a somber, bracing message about our all-volunteer military.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he rightly noted, are the longest campaign fought entirely by volunteers since the Revolutionary War.  Gates used this fact as a call to service, asking the country, “How long can these brave and broad young shoulders carry the burden that we – as a military, as a government, as a society – continue to place on them?”

This question is exactly backwards.  Rather than stress-testing our troops to see how long they can carry this burden, Gates should turn the question around to ask how long we intend to place it on their shoulders.  After all, we chose and continue to choose these missions, as well as the means by which we conduct them.  For example, as recently as last December, the President chose a manpower-heavy counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan, urged on by Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and Gates himself, rather than a narrower counterterrorism approach advocated by the Vice President. Read more…

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating October 8, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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Lately, I can’t help but thinking of Miss Shirley Bassey’s sultry voice singing “History Repeating” every time I hear the term ‘security assistance.’

Security assistance is nothing new for the U.S.  In the early 1940s, for example, the Lend-Lease Act provided huge amounts of equipment to the Allies in World War II before the U.S. got directly involved.  And, of course, all throughout the Cold War guns and money were given to armed forces worldwide under the auspices of countering the expansion of communism. Read more…

No Civilian Left Behind: Educating the Elusive “Interagency” October 6, 2010

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By Laura A. Hall and Jonathan M. Larkin

“Interagency” has become a favorite noun and adjective in the national security community (perhaps we’ll even hear it as a verb one day!).  Over the years, the need for greater cross-department planning and operations has engendered many efforts to improve the way organizations work together.  The proposed legislation’s goals – to foster greater interagency cooperation and to provide extended professional education, training, and interagency assignment opportunities to national security professionals across the U.S. government – can only be applauded.  The sponsors are serious legislators.

Rep. Geoff Davis has long been an advocate for national security human capital development and Rep. Ike Skelton took part in the debate that led to Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which established the joint military command and improved the ability of U.S. armed forces to conduct joint operations in the field.  However, “Goldwater Nichols II,” this is not.  The bill suffers from several problems that could serve to make it yet another unmet mandate. Read more…

Naval protection of peacetime commerce: An attempted but failed subsidy October 5, 2010

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By Benjamin Friedman

Benjamin Friedman is research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute.

The Cato Policy Analysis that I recently completed with my colleague Christopher Preble, Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint, has enough detail about cutting the defense budget to bore most casual readers to tears. (Risa Trump wrote about it here anyway) But the description of the non-interventionist* strategy that underlies the cuts is full of ideas and statements that may stir more people’s interest or ire.

One such statement is that, “despite its popularity, there is scant evidence for the claim that international commerce requires American military hegemony.” Read more…

Mullen debates himself about Afghanistan strategy October 5, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood before an audience at Texas A&M last Thursday and declared unequivocally: “We have the strategy right” in Afghanistan.    His confidence was assuring, but it glossed over an even more elementary and important question.  Do we have a strategy at all in Afghanistan?

ADM Mullen is his own most formidable opponent in that debate.  Surely the Chairman, circa last Thursday, would answer adamantly that we do.  But the ghost of ADM Mullen past, specifically August 1st of this year, suggests otherwise.  On that first Sunday in August, ADM Mullen made the morning talk show rounds, and twice was asked, point blank, what the United States is doing in Afghanistan. Read more…

Budget is Policy: Integrating National Security Spending September 30, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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By: Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams

At a roundtable discussion yesterday on the administration’s new global development strategy, Secretaries Gates, Clinton, and Shah urged for more funding for the State Department.  Secretary Clinton may have said it best: [the withdrawal from Iraq] “the military saves $15 billion. We ask for, you know, about one-tenth of that, and that’s considered too much, even though there’s savings accruing to our transitioning to the civilian side.”

Increasingly the security challenges the U.S. faces must involve all of our tools of statecraft, often in synergy with each other.  If counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us nothing else it is that military might wins battles, but political and economic efforts win the war to undermine violent extremism.

Yet, the military tool in the US toolkit has become, in many ways, the “leading edge” of American statecraft. Be it an overreliance on the military or an effort by the Pentagon to expand their mission set, DOD has taken on an ever growing number of missions that are not combat-related, including foreign aid, global health, and even foreign police training. This imbalance erodes the civilian foreign policy agencies and adds missions to an overburdened military.

It is time to right this structural imbalance, change our national security planning and budgetary processes so that the balance, tradeoffs, and synergy between the tools are visible and taken into consideration as planning and budgeting is being carried out.  For the past sixty years, planning and budgeting for diplomacy, development, and defense has been carried out in stovepipes, limiting strategic planning across the departments.  The result, instead, has been the duplication of programs, projects that simply don’t make sense within a larger context, or even some efforts that undermine foreign policy goals down the road. (more…)

Security or subsidies: Mr. McDonnell and the Virginia delegation go to Washington September 28, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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by Mariah Quinn and Matt Leatherman

Elected officials across the country know how closely their constituents’ job security affects their own.  Virginia’s congressional delegation and the administration in Richmond have lived richly, though, relishing an unemployment rate more than a quarter better than the national average (7% relative to 9.6%).  Indeed, certain parts of Virginia have unemployment rates harkening back to the pre-recession glory days – Arlington and Fairfax counties come in at an enviable 4.2% and 5.0%, for instance, while York County in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area looks similar, at 5.7%.

Fortune is running short even in these areas, though, after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates detailed the “Defense Efficiency Initiative” on August 9. With the stated aim of reducing the number of contractors by 10 percent per year for the next three years, more than 30,000 defense contracting jobs are on the chopping block, undercutting the boom towns just outside Washington where many of these jobs are located.  Gates’ decision to close the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command, home to 2,800 military and civilian personnel and 3,300 contractors, means that similar pain is in store for Virginia’s coastal money makers as well.

Small wonder then that a rhetorical storm erupted in the state after Gates’ announcement.  Efficiency, it seems, might not be in Virginia’s best interest.