Talking About Diplomacy Over Breakfast

Yesterday morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the persistent gap — which we’ve decried time and time again — between funding for diplomacy and for the military. Acting Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) praised Gates’ presence as a potential harbinger of reinvigorated cooperation between these two goals:

“Years ago the U.S. Secretary of Defense came before the Foreign Affairs Committee regularly. Reinstating this custom will help Congress and the Administration work more closely together to restore some balance between what has come to be known as ‘hard power’ and ‘soft power.’ And Mr. Gates’ own statements of late bear that out.”

In the speeches that Representative Berman refers to, Secretary Gates has nodded to the importance of “civilian involvement and expertise” and “non-military instruments of national power.” This is a strong step for a Secretary of Defense to take, and we will need to make sure that next year’s budget builds on this commitment to leveling the vast funding disparity between State — which currently takes up only about 1% of the total budget — and Defense — which eats up over 10 times that.