Center for American Progress

It’s time to get the Pentagon out of the business of administering U.S. foreign aid
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It’s time to get the Pentagon out of the business of administering U.S. foreign aid

Authors Max Bergmann and Alex Schmitt discuss the current structure of U.S. security assistance programs and explain why the United States should shift its priorities away from the Pentagon and toward the State Department.

“Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy,” President Biden announced last month in remarks that were heartening — and long overdue. But rebuilding the State Department will require more than just elevating career officials and building up a bigger and more diverse diplomatic corps. Shifting the center of power to the State Department requires putting diplomats back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and empowering them with new resources. To achieve this requires ending a byproduct of the post-9/11 era: the Pentagon’s foreign aid program.

By law, foreign aid, which includes assistance to foreign militaries, is the responsibility of the State Department. This is for the simple reason that providing arms to another country is fundamentally an act of foreign policy. The State Department’s foreign military financing program has provided roughly $6 billion aid annually to foreign military partners, such as Israel and Egypt, for a half-century.

The above excerpt was originally published in The Washington Post. Click here to view the full article.

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Max Bergmann

Former Senior Fellow

Alexandra Schmitt

Former Senior Policy Analyst