In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Gates warns of militarization of US foreign policy

Posted by seumasach on July 19, 2008

This is a nice summary of the Obama school of foreign policy thinking, ommiting only the anti-Russian dimension.This policy seems already to be mainstream. Thus, in addition to the ongoing provocations in Burma, Zimbabwe and Kosovo, we have as Bhadrakumar puts it:

‘The strong possibility.. that the Bush administration will press the pedal on multiple fronts on the Eurasian geopolitical landscape and create a fait accompli of US-Russian mutual antagonism for Senator Barack Obama, should he become president.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military’s growing role in rebuilding war-battered nations has fueled concerns about a “creeping militarization” of American foreign policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

As the conflict in Afghanistan shows, coordinating war-fighting with diplomacy, job creation and road-building often doesn’t work well, the Pentagon chief said in remarks prepared for delivery at an international policy dinner.

“Getting all these different elements to coordinate operations and share best practices has been a colossal — and so far an all too often unsuccessful — undertaking,” said Gates.

He added that the increased involvement of the military in jobs that historically were done by civilian agencies has led to concerns of “a creeping militarization of some aspects of America’s foreign policy.”

In both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, U.S. troops have been doing far more than fighting insurgents and securing borders. They’ve coordinated reconstruction projects and filled transition teams that bolstered fragile local governments and rebuilt industry.

Gates has repeatedly said that the State Department and some non-governmental organizations have been underfunded and understaffed for too long. And he has warned that military might alone cannot win wars.

Instead, he has called for more support for so-called soft power, with civilians contributing more in nonmilitary areas such as communication, economic assistance and political development.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on, many have argued that the Bush administration missed opportunities early on to head off insurgents by failing to focus on economic development, promotion of internal reconciliation and training of police forces.

On Tuesday, Gates expanded on that theme, using the worsening situation in Afghanistan as an example of the problem. A recent spate of deadly attacks in Afghanistan has underscored the resurgence of the Taliban there — more than six years after they were ousted by the U.S.-led invasion.

The surge in violence has led to calls for the U.S. to send more troops to Afghanistan, shifting them away from what has been an improving security situation in Iraq.

Military leaders, however, are not yet ready to say how many troops can be pulled out of Iraq, stressing that the gains there are fragile.

Gates on Tuesday was introduced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — a choice that reflected their generally strong working relationship and his vocal support for giving her more resources.

“We cannot kill or capture our way to victory,” Gates said, adding that military operations should support measures that promote economic and political growth. That effort, he said, must be coordinated with the U.N., NATO, other nations and agencies such as United States Agency for International Development.

“The Foreign Service is not the Foreign Legion, and the U.S. military should never be mistaken for a Peace Corps with guns,” said Gates.

In the future, Gates said, the U.S. may not be toppling a regime and rebuilding a nation, but there will be a need to help countries that are struggling with insurgents, failed governments or natural disasters.

The most persistent threats, he said, will come from failing states that can’t meet the basic needs of their people.

Gates was speaking at a dinner of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, a coalition of businesses, non-governmental organizations and community leaders that support international affairs programs.

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