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The militarization of U.S. foreign policy.

Key Points

* The Defense Department has moved aggressively to eclipse the State Department as the major locus of U.S. foreign policy.

* In its campaign for war with Iraq, the Bush administration perpetuated the greatest misuse of intelligence in U.S. history.

* The current White House has initiated and escalated a worldwide and continuous war on terrorism that has increased everyone's insecurity.

The fall of the Soviet Union handed the U.S. a unique opportunity, as the surviving superpower, to lead the world toward a period of greater cooperation and conflict resolution through the use of diplomacy, global organization, and international law. This great opportunity is being squandered, as the world becomes a more dangerous place. Military force is now looming larger than ever as the main instrument and organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. In our new national security doctrine, in the shape of our federal budget, and in the missions of the agencies the budget funds, our government is being reshaped to weaken controls on its use of force and further incline our country toward war.

The U.S. decision to use force against Iraq was both rash and senseless, ignoring the fundamental premise that force should be the last, not the first, option. There was no near-term threat to the U.S. or to U.S. interests, let alone a clear and present danger. Yet Washington repeatedly passed up opportunities to use diplomacy or to build a coalition. Rather, it approached the problem assuming that, as the world's dominant military power, it had no need to gain the cooperation of the international community already organized to meet such challenges.

Since the 2000 election, and particularly in the wake of the Afghan War and the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, diplomacy has been shamefully abused. Rather than using international law to deal with suspected terrorists captured during the Afghan War, the U.S. opted for its own military tribunals and the suspension of accepted judicial procedures. It ignored such institutions as the United Nations International Court of Justice, which could have provided legal procedures based on international law. And it rejected established judicial civil procedures that guarantee the rights of the accused, including the representation by an attorney, a speedy trial, and access to evidence and witnesses for defense. In conducting a campaign of deceit to justify the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration created the greatest intelligence scandal in U.S. history.

With the invasion and occupation of Iraq, we have witnessed the end of the so-called post-cold war era and the escalation of a continuous, worldwide war on terrorism that has increased global insecurity. Nearly 150,000 American forces are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and the result is growing anarchy in both countries. President Bush has declared that the war against terrorism centers on Iraq. This has the ring of

self-fulfilling prophecy, since Iraq had no terrorism problem the U.S. invasion. A growing number at home and abroad are concerned Washington will resort to the use of preemptive force again, perhaps against other so-called "axis of evil" members, North Korea or Iran, before this year's election.

Reversing a trend that predicated the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. has increased its military budget to more than $400 billion and its intelligence budget to more than $40 billion. Current projections point to a defense budget of more than $500 billion before the end of the decade, with another $50 billion for the intelligence community. Led by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Department of Defense has moved aggressively to eclipse the State Department as the major locus of U.S. foreign policy, arrogating management of the intelligence community, and abandoning bipartisan policies of arms control and disarmament crafted over the past four decades. Funding cuts have prompted the Department of State to close consulates around the world and assign personnel of the well-funded CIA to diplomatic and consular posts. Though current defense costs represent nearly 20% of Washington's expenses, less than 1% of the federal budget is devoted to the needs of the State Department.

The misuse of sensitive information to justify the war against Iraq has precipitated the worst intelligence scandal in U.S. history, compromising the Bush administration's integrity. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski argued, this intelligence failure has been "fueled by a demagogy that emphasizes worst-case scenarios, stimulates fear and induces a dichotomous view of world reality."

So instead of living in a new era of conciliation and conflict resolution, we are witnessing an ugly epilogue to the cold war that finds Washington acting alone instead of working with its traditional allies. It is important to understand how the U.S. was lured into this terrible cul-de-sac and how the nation should debate and adopt policies to reverse the Bush administration's dangerous neoconservative course.
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Article Details
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Author:Goodman, Mel
Publication:Foreign Policy in Focus
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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