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Pentagon Taking Over U.S. Foreign Policy

Some idea of Pentagon dominance over diplomatic approaches may be gleaned from the Pentagon’s $664 billion annual budget compared with State’s $52 billion. “Washington employs more military band members than it does foreign service officers."

The Pentagon has virtually replaced the State Department in making U.S. foreign policy, The Nation magazine charges.


“Quietly, gradually---and inevitably, given the weight of its colossal budget and imperial writ -- the Pentagon has all but eclipsed the State Department at the center of US foreign policy-making,” reporter Stephen Glain writes in the September 28 issue.

In addition to new weapons and war fighters, the Pentagon’s budget “now underwrites a cluster of special funds from which it can train and equip foreign armies -- often in the service of repressive regimes -- as well as engage in aid development projects in pursuit of its own tactical ends.”

Although these programs technically require State Department approval and are subject to Congressional review, Glain writes, “legislative oversight and interagency coordination is spotty at best.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon “is pushing for full discretionary control” over large sums that Glain points out “would render meaningless the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, which concentrated responsibility for civilian and military aid programs within the State Department.”

Some idea of Pentagon dominance over diplomatic approaches may be gleaned from the Pentagon’s $664 billion annual budget compared with State’s $52 billion. “Washington employs more military band members than it does foreign service officers,” Glain notes.

It was President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- “with the collusion of (Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice---who expanded and entrenched the Pentagon’s franchise over foreign policy,” Glain asserts. In the run-up to the Iraq aggression, Rumsfeld bulldozed “the constitutional prerogatives” of Secretary of State Colin Powell and “subverted the nation’s civilian leaders abroad.”

Before the U.S. invasion, Rumsfeld sent a three-man team to gather intelligence in several Middle Eastern countries without informing their U.S. ambassadors, likely a direct violation of the guidelines established by President Kennedy giving ambassadors in their host countries “full responsibility for the direction, coordination, and supervision of all Department of Defense personnel on official duty.”

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What’s more, the Pentagon increasingly is taking over the U.S. budget for foreign assistance, controlling nearly 25 percent, up from zero a decade ago, while US AID’s share has declined to 40 percent from 65 percent during the same period, Glain writes.

The Pentagon’s mission statement, Directive 3000.5 in November 2005, tasks it to develop, among other things, “a viable market economy, rule of law, democratic institutions, and a robust civil society,” including “various types of security forces, correctional facilities, and judicial systems,” The Nation article says.

“Any mission conducted ‘from peace to conflict…in States and regions’ is by definition everlasting and all-encompassing, and D3000.5 chills the foreign aid and diplomatic community,” Glain points out.

According to a finding by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2006: “As a result of inadequate funding for civilian programs, U.S. defense agencies are increasingly being granted authority and funding to fill perceived gaps. Such bleeding of civilian responsibilities overseas from civilian to military agencies risks weakening the Secretary of State’s primacy in setting the agenda for U.S. relations.”

Moreover, the Pentagon has been spending funds authorized by the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act to train foreign militaries and has invested the money “in countries with highly autocratic governments,” Glain reports. Among these are Chad, which State says engages in “extra-judicial killing, arbitrary detention and torture,” as well as Algeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Tunisia, “all of which have abysmal human rights records,” Glain says.

Although President Obama says he seeks to devise non-military approaches in Afghanistan, Glain points out that last April “the White House backed away from a pledge to staff hundreds of posts in Afghanistan with civilians for lack of funding and said it would instead turn to the Pentagon.”

The author reminds that “America is a republic, a nation not of men but of laws, and the laws say foreign policy must be charted by civilians. Complacent politicians have neglected this trust, however, and the military now defines U.S. interests abroad as much as it defends them. That is the bill for a leviathan. It is the wages of empire.”

Besides its aggressive positioning of about 1,000 bases around the world for “defense,” expanding its control of outer space, “improving” nuclear weapons and developing germ warfare weapons as well, the Pentagon has been stealthily taking over U.S. foreign policy as it pressures Congress to finance one war after another. Besides spilling innocent blood abroad, the Pentagon today is bleeding America white. The Warfare State is here.

Sherwood Ross