Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thanks Secretary Gates!

Here's an interesting exert from the NPR interview with Defense Secretary Gates this morning.

NPR: Does your experience in the Cold War also inform some of yourrecent remarks about so-called soft power? You – I'll summarize –encouraged the United States to spend more money and effort onnonmilitary means of influence abroad: diplomacy, improving the U.S.image and so forth.

Gates: Absolutely. I mean, when the Cold War was at its height, the U.S. Agency for International Development had something like 16,000employees. It has 3,000 now. One of the points that I make, if you took all Foreign Service officers in the world — about 6,600 — it would not be sufficient to man one carrier strike group. And rightnow, frankly, I think that the diplomacy, international economicassistance and so on have been significantly weakened.

NPR: Isn't there, though, a basic budget choice that someone is goingto have to make though? Either you get six more fighter planes, forexample, or you get a few thousand extra Foreign Service officers?

Gates: Well, the reality is that the cost of increasing yourcapabilities on the diplomatic, economic side, is really prettymodest. The entire State Department budget is $36 billion. We spendthat in the Pentagon on health care.

NPR: Would you say it would be worth it to slow down the growth of theDefense Department budget to allow for greater diplomacy and other efforts?

Gates: Well, I don't think you'll every find a secretary of defense who will say it's a good idea to cut the Defense Department budget.

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