The conversation we have been having here for the last two weeks about the cost of the Military Industrial Complex on our country’s health is beginning to bleed into the Establishment Media. This morning Nick Kristoff of the New York Times writes a column entitled Make Diplomacy, Not War.
The United States is hugely overinvesting in military tools and underinvesting in diplomatic tools. The result is a lopsided foreign policy that antagonizes the rest of the world and is ineffective in tackling many modern problems.
After all, you can’t bomb global warming.
He then goes on to say that Defense Secretary Gates is by far the most eloquent statesman trying to address this problem.
“One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win,” Mr. Gates said. He noted that the entire American diplomatic corps — about 6,500 people — is less than the staffing of a single aircraft carrier group, yet Congress isn’t interested in paying for a larger Foreign Service.
“It simply does not have the built-in, domestic constituency of defense programs,” Mr. Gates said. “As an example, the F-22 aircraft is produced by companies in 44 states; that’s 88 senators.”
With the Olympics unfolding in China now, the Navy and the Air Force are seizing upon China’s rise as an excuse to grab tens of billions of dollars for the F-22, for an advanced destroyer, for new attack submarines. But we’re failing to invest minuscule sums to build good will among Chinese.
I’m still not sure of how we get this issue into the larger dialogue of a Presidential campaign. But Bob Gates is a truth teller. If Obama wins, he should consider keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense, so he could really tackle this problem.