Friday, February 26, 2010

lopsided toolkit

The United States has a broad range of capabilities and resources to carry out its national security policies. But the civilian side of government is woefully underfunded as more and more activities are assigned to the Defense Department and our military forces. The imbalance is outlined by some noted budget analysts at the Stimson Center who label the problem "the lopsided toolkit."

As they note, "The defense budget is nearly 13 times bigger than all U.S. civilian foreign policy budgets combined."

That contrasts with what I call "the golden year" -- 1950 -- when the State Department budget, which included Marshall Plan funds, was equal to half the entire Pentagon budget. Harry Truman insisted on fighting the Cold War with robust diplomacy, substantial foreign economic measures, public diplomacy, and intelligence activities -- as well as military strength. It's a shame we haven't kept pace with civilian capabilities in recent decades.

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