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July 16, 2008
THE MILITARIZATION OF FOREIGN POLICY:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.
The problem, of course, is that the State Department hasn't been up to the job. Given its abject failure in Iraq, and its -- to put it charitably -- very limited success in the Middle East generally, it's no surprise that State has lost influence, while Defense, which has been far more successful, has picked up some of the slack. But if the State Department is to wield its traditional influence, it needs to start doing a better job. Otherwise its decline in influence is inevitable. The same is true for other agencies -- like the CIA -- that have dropped the ball repeatedly in recent years.