Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why Secretary Matthis Should Insist On No State Department Cuts

My friend and law partner, John Bellinger, was the Legal Counsel to the NSC, and then Legal Adviser (General Counsel) of the State Department during the Bush Administration.  Today on Lawfare, he has a great column explaining why Defense Secretary Matthis should reject the Defense budget increases that come as a result of cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy:

In 2013, when he was CENTCOM Command,  Mattis said  “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.” 
Mattis was following the lead of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates who repeatedly stated his support for increased funding for the State Department.   Gates famously said “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers."  In his 2007 Landon Lecture at the University of Kansas, Gates called for significantly more resources for development and diplomacy, stating that “One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win.”  Gates pointed out, correctly, that a large chunk of foreign aid is devoted to assisting foreign governments to fight terrorism:  “Arguably the most important military component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern themselves.”  He went on to say that “there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development….We must focus our energies beyond the guns and steel of the military, beyond just our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. We must also focus our energies on the other elements of national power that will be so crucial in the coming years.”
Read the entire post.  John Bellinger, General Matthis and Secretary Gates are all correct: State Department funding (including foreign aid) is a force multiplier that would be foolish to cut.  Surely, the President doesn't want to be foolish?

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