President Donald Trump’s recent airstrikes in Syria highlight the one-dimensional thinking of his administration on foreign policy.
Trump used military force, or hard power, to punish the Syrian government, a despicable government by any decent person’s standards. In addition, Trump also proposed cutting money for the State Department and foreign aid.
There is a better way. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recently published a report titled “Rethinking the Battlefield,” that advocates a greater use of soft power in national security. He states that our national security challenges, Syria being one, can’t be solved by military strikes alone. The report includes information on the amount spent on international affairs as opposed to traditional defense. Roughly 1.4 percent of the budget is spent on foreign affairs, this includes diplomacy, foreign assistance and security partnerships with other countries. Our government spends 20 times more on defense than on diplomacy and development. There are more people working in military-run grocery stores than the State Department has diplomats, the report said.
Murphy advocates a “21st century Marshall Plan” and recommends doubling our foreign affairs budget. Even with this suggested increase our country would still spend vastly more on defense. The report advocates creating a new U.S. International Development Bank, expanding the Millennium Challenge Corporation, providing incentives and assistance for fragile states, increasing our investment in global health programs and increasing the number of diplomats and foreign aid workers by 50 percent. In summary, Senator Murphy realizes that security equals more than military intervention!
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Jason Sibert, Peace Economy Project, St. Louis