Daniel W. Drezner

In other news, dog bites man

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has voiced concerns in the past about the underfunding of foreign policy departments not located in the Pentagon.  From this Washington Post story by Ann Scott Tyson, it appears he’s upping the ante:  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign ...

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has voiced concerns in the past about the underfunding of foreign policy departments not located in the Pentagon.  From this Washington Post story by Ann Scott Tyson, it appears he’s upping the ante: 

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.

“We cannot kill or capture our way to victory” in the long-term campaign against terrorism, Gates said, arguing that military action should be subordinate to political and economic efforts to undermine extremism.

You expect to hear the phrase “creeping militarization” with regard to U.S. foreign policy from a lot of places — most of which would be ensconced within the academy.  When the Secretary of Defense is saying it, however, it’s worth taking notice.  More here

Broadly speaking, when it comes to America’s engagement with the rest of the world, you probably don’t here this often from a Secretary of Defense , it is important that the military is – and is clearly seen to be – in a supporting role to civilian agencies. Our diplomatic leaders – be they in ambassadors’ suites or on the seventh floor of the State Department – must have the resources and political support needed to fully exercise their statutory responsibilities in leading American foreign policy.

From a standard bureaucratic politics perspective, this kind of behavior is damn unusual.  Agency heads usually don’t go around saying that other agencies need more resources.  Of course, Gates himself likely doesn’t think much of that perspective: 

One of the reasons I have rarely been invited to lecture in political science departments – including at Texas A&M – is because faculty correctly suspect that I would tell the students that what their textbooks say about government does not describe the reality I have experienced in working for seven presidents.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies. His latest book is The Toddler in Chief. Twitter: @dandrezner

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