Small Wars Journal

Take It from 3 Former Ambassadors: Neglecting Diplomacy Will Hurt America

Take It from 3 Former Ambassadors: Neglecting Diplomacy Will Hurt America by Frank G. Wisner, William Luers and Thomas Pickering - The National Interest

“Our military leaders and our diplomats not only represent a symbol of America’s enduring commitment to the region, but they also build trust through partnerships that have an important stabilizing effect when trouble looms.”General James N. Mattis, March 1, 2011

The Trump administration’s budgetary proposals and decisions reflect a growing gap between strong support for increased military action and capability, and a significant reduction in budgetary support for diplomacy. Military force alone cannot secure America’s national-security objectives; they can only be met through a solid fusion of force and diplomacy.

Without a robust political and diplomatic component, no foreign- and security-policy strategy can succeed.

The numbers only partly explain the new priorities. The administration proposes a 10 percent increase in the Pentagon’s budget and a 29 percent decrease in State’s.

In the first hearings explaining President Trump’s national-security budget, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress, “The first responsibility of government is the security of its own citizens, and we will orient our diplomatic efforts toward fulfilling that commitment.”

To be sure, protecting American citizens must be the president’s first responsibility. But if the United States is to invest in greatly increasing its hard power to sustain the most powerful military in the world, it must expend greater resources to strengthen America’s smart power and its stature as the global leader of humanitarian causes, cultural exchange, and international economic cooperation and development. These are powerful tools in today’s diplomacy…

Read on.