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Foreign policy beyond the Pentagon February 9, 2009

Posted by Molly in Analysis, News.
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Defense Secretary Gates said it last week and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, repeated it on Thursday.  Over the past 8 years US foreign policy has become too militarized and, as Mullen stressed, “It’s got to change.”

Walter Pincus reviewed Mullen’s speech at Princeton University on Thursday in a Washington Post editorialAccording to Pincus:

Mullen said in a speech last week that it could take 10 years or more before government departments other than Defense, such as State, Commerce, Treasury and Agriculture, are prepared to send employees overseas to assume roles now being played by the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots.

Mullen noted that the military has taken over traditional State Department functions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including funding local school reconstruction projects and sponsoring public information programs.

These are services that the State Department and USAID have historically executed as tools to promote diplomacy and development.   Mullen estimates that it will take ten years to migrate these programs back to the State Department, but it need not take so long.  A new administration poses the best opportunity to realign strategies at the State and Defense Departments, rationalize programs and bring foreign policy back to the civilian agencies.

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