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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…)

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