February 28, 2017

Opinion: The State Department Is Already Running on Fumes

By Ilan Goldenberg

When every problem looks like a nail, it’s all too easy to order up more hammers.

So it is with the Trump administration, which announced this week that it plans to ask Congress for a $54 billion increase in military spending. Depending on how you count, that amounts to a 10 percent boost in the Pentagon budget, even as the White House takes a hatchet to the State Department and USAID, cutting the $58.8 billion international affairs budget by as much as 37 percent. Presidential budgets are political documents—and fortunately these extreme cuts are unlikely to make it through the congressional wringer—but they send an unmistakable message about the Trump team’s disdain for diplomacy and foreign aid.

But Trump’s overwhelming emphasis on military tools is not new. If anything, it’s only the latest example of a political culture I saw during my service at the departments of State and Defense and as a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Unfortunately, the end result of years of overreliance on defense is a national security machine in which the military is by far the most capable component—and every other part has to go begging just to do its job.

Read the full article at Politico.

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