The Three Ds: Defense, Diplomacy, and Development

Sen. Biden convenes a panel featuring CAPAF expert Reuben Brigety to discuss the U.S. military's involvement in global aid and development.

Testimony: Aid for the Future, by Reuben Brigety (CAPAF)

Report: Humanity as a Weapon of War, by Reuben Brigety

Two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of the “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy. Yesterday, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) convened a hearing in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to examine the role of the military in America’s foreign policy. Biden said he convened the panel, which included Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Reuben Brigety, to question whether an overemphasis on the military’s role in development efforts undermines both the civilian institutions it replaces and the military itself.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Defense Eric Edelman spoke first. Edelman remarked, “we all agree that militarized foreign policy is not in our interest,” but said that in dangerous situations in which civilian institutions are unable to carry out their duties, “in many cases, the Department of Defense has had to act by default.”

Negroponte pointed to the Civilian Stabilization Initiative, which would coordinate civilian agencies’ capabilities in a crisis, as an example of how the State Department is attempting to expand its ability to respond to emergencies. He said that $248.6 million has been allocated for the program in fiscal year 2009.

Both Negroponte and Edelman emphasized recent measures taken to increase cooperation and communication between the State Department and the Department of Defense. Edelman said that AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, has been working to integrate civilian and military capabilities within the military’s command structure, and that the civilian presence at AFRICOM is intended to leverage the skills necessary to avert conflict in the region. Biden criticized AFRICOM for its emphasis on the military, and argued that there are not enough resources available to civilian agencies worldwide. “Not all of Africa is in conflict, but the whole model” is set up as if it were, he said.

The second panel included Reuben E. Brigety, II, Director of the Sustainable Security Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund; Mary Locke, Former Senior Professional Staff for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; George Rupp, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee; and Robert Perito, Senior Program Officer at the Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations at the United States Institute of Peace.

Brigety, the author of the CAP report, “Humanity as a Weapon of War,” noted the difference between “fundamental” developmental activities, which focus on development for its own sake, and “instrumental” development activities, which foster development for a larger foreign policy goal. “The United States has an interest in both fundamental and instrumental development assistance,” he said.

Brigety emphasized the need to create metrics for development programs that would make agencies accountable to the government and allow the agencies to evaluate themselves. He said that the U.S. military should develop a methodology that would link development and security, and that the United States should develop a comprehensive development strategy.

To prevent civilian responsibilities “bleeding through” to the military, Brigety supports allocating more personnel to civilian development agencies and creating a cabinet-level development position. He argued that creating a comprehensive “3D” strategy—defense, diplomacy, and development—would require development to be elevated to an equal status with the other two components.

Testimony: Aid for the Future, by Reuben Brigety (CAPAF)

Report: Humanity as a Weapon of War, by Reuben Brigety

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