Don’t Cut Defense to Fund State

Helle Dale /

It is no secret that when it comes to the use of power, the Obama Administration vastly prefers “soft” power to the military variety. In a recent article in Politico, Michael Clauser, executive vice president of the Society of National Security Professionals, writes that proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget will “reignite a key Washington budget debate: the proportionality of military spending relative to nonmilitary international affairs.”

As the Pentagon still spends almost 20 times more on defense than the State Department does on other nonmilitary-related international affairs activities (for very good reasons), this is undoubtedly true. No love has been lost over the years between the departments of Defense and State.

For its part, the Pentagon tends to look upon State as an ineffectual bureaucratic swamp where endless talk takes the place of action, while State tends to look at Defense as primitive and overmilitarized in its view of the world and suspects that the Pentagon secretly wants to run U.S. foreign policy. Yet, writes Clauser, “of all national budget debates, the fratricide for funds between State and Defense is most puzzling as their roles are so intrinsically complimentary.” National defense and the diplomatic tools of American leadership in the world should be mutually reinforcing. (more…)