Friday, January 25, 2008

Starving the State Department

U.S. Diplomacy has an interesting entry on the resource issues currently plagueing the Department, particularly from a Public Diplomacy perspective (which is near and dear to my heart as a Public Diplomacy officer):

"more importantly the budget cuts reflect a continuing emphasis on military capabilities rather than diplomatic capabilities in US federal budgeting priorities. In 2007 the defense budget totaled $439.3 billion for regular department spending, not including money for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008 its budget will increase 44 billion to $483 billion. Ironically enough that’s a 9% increase in the Defense Department budget...

Defense’s bountiful budget allows it to even take on some activities traditionally left to State. The State Department’s office of Public Diplomacy attempts to win the “battle of ideas” by improving the US’ image abroad. That office enjoys an annual budget of $900 million. On the other side of the river, Secretary Gates last year created a new position called the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy, to spearhead the military’s strategic communications and run their “countering ideological support to terrorism” program...

In short, when diplomatic activities start being transferred to the military branch, everyone suffers—not just the starving State Department."

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