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U.S. Defense and Foreign Policy.

U.S. Defense and Foreign Policy

By Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense


Reviewed by David T. Jones

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently addressed the Nixon Center in Washington where he received the Center's Distinguished Service Award and delivered his judgments on how best the United States can help other countries to build their defense capacity (and develop as stronger allies thereby reducing the U.S. security burden).

Gates repeated his now almost standard call for increased funding of and emphasis on diplomacy and development. In passing, he wryly observed that DOD is not just the United States' 800-pound gorilla, but also "one with a sometimes very active pituitary gland."

Gates argued that the effectiveness and credibility of the U.S. in addressing a wider variety of local/regional problems will only be as good as the "effectiveness, credibility, and sustainability of our local partners." This, Gates believed, is the "ideological and security challenge of our time ... and the primary institutional challenge as well." He saw the need for systemic review of the United States' national security, military aid, and economic assistance structures--many elements of which have not been comprehensively rethought in more than a generation.

Gates recommended policy revision in accord with the following principles:

-- Budgeting must provide "agility and flexibility" to respond to unforeseen threats and opportunities;

-- There must be effective congressional oversight to complement greater executive branch flexibility and discretion;

-- Security assistance must be "steady and long term"--which means "we cannot cut off assistance and relationships every time a country does something we dislike or disagree with" (e.g., Pakistan after its nuclear weapons test);

-- Reinforce the State Department's "lead role in constructing and crafting U.S. foreign policy;" and

-- Accomplish all objectives with "strong doses of modesty and realism"--as President Nixon would have said.
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Author:Jones, David T.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 12, 2010
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