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  America
US Spends Much Less Money on Diplomacy Than Military
Victims of war image

In fighting terrorism, the United States gives the lion share of budget to military while being close-fisted in diplomacy, said a report on March 18.

Nonmilitary counter-terrorism programs have budgets that are measured in millions instead of billions, and in many cases are seeing their funding remain flat or drop, the Los Angeles Times noted.

In recent years, the Pentagon has received a larger share of the counter-terrorism budget, whereas "indirect action" programs to win the campaign through diplomacy and other nonmilitary means have struggled for funding and attention, said the report, quoting a review of budget documents and interviews with dozens of current and former U.S. officials.

This runs counter to what President Bush claims that his administration wants to end extremism by addressing underlying conditions, said the paper.

Bush, members of Congress and virtually all counter-terrorism experts have acknowledged that defeating terrorists cannot be accomplished solely by dropping bombs on them. Ultimately, they say, ending terrorism will come only by addressing its underlying causes.

"But a close look at the United States' counter-terrorism priorities shows a strategy going in a different direction," said the paper.

Even within the Pentagon, many "soft power" programs, which don't include direct military action, appear to be getting squeezed out as more money goes to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and special forces missions elsewhere, according to the paper.

The overall cost of the U.S. war on terrorism has ballooned to at least 502 billion dollars since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, with the administration now requesting that Congress fund another 93 billion dollars this year for the Pentagon's counter-terrorism programs alone, and 142 billion for 2008.

Conditions are much different at the State Department, which is charged with coordinating the U.S. government's international role in the war on terrorism. Its task includes overseeing aid to foreign governments and making sure the overall campaign balances military power, diplomacy, economic development, law enforcement and intelligence gathering, said the paper.

The State Department requested 157.5 million dollars for its major counter-terrorism programs this year but received 20 million less than that from Congress. That meant cuts in training and equipping allied counter-terrorism forces and in improving international terrorism interdiction efforts, said the paper, quoting budget documents and a State Department official.

Because of the funding squeeze, the State Department's Regional Strategic Initiative, a key counter-terrorism program, nearly ceased operations last year for lack of funding just as it was getting off the ground, according to the paper.

Its annual budget is about 1 million dollars — roughly what the Pentagon spends on counter-terrorism in Iraq every five minutes.

Some top counter-terrorism officials, seeing their noncombat programs languishing, are leaving the government, including a top Pentagon official, said the paper, adding that three at the State Department who ran the highly regarded Regional Strategic Initiative are also leaving.

And increasingly, even civilian anti-terrorism operations are being run by current or former military members, according to the paper.

Many terrorism experts have expressed worry about the shift.

The U.S. approach to counter-terrorism is that "enemies simply need to be killed or imprisoned so that global terrorism or the Iraqi insurgency will end," Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, told a House Armed Services subcommittee last month.

"This is a monumental failing," Hoffman said, "not only because decapitation strategies have rarely worked in countering mass mobilization, terrorist or insurgent campaigns, but also because Al-Qaida's ability to continue this struggle is ..predicated on its capacity to attract new recruits" by publicizing U.S. military actions. (Xinhua News)




 

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