Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Militarization of Foreign Policy | Are we ready to negotiate with Iran or Anyone.?

The Militarization of Foreign Policy | We Meant Well - Peter Van Buren
So if we don't bomb Iran are we prepared to negotiate?  Here is a story from Iraq on how our Foreign Policy was carried out.  You would laugh at how poorly we did our "nation building"  if it wasn't a tragedy for so many innocent people.
Peter Van Buren, an envoy in Iraq:
What you do get for your money is the militarization of foreign policy. During my year in Iraq as a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Leader I watched with some sadness as the majority of our engagement with Iraqis in the field was conducted by young Army captains. I was the lone Foreign Service Officer assigned to a brigade of some 3000 soldiers

If you wonder why so few envoys look at the facts about funding.

There really are more military band members than State Department Foreign Service Officers. The whole of the Foreign Service is smaller than the complement aboard one aircraft carrier. Despite the role that foreign affairs has always played in America’s drunken intercourse abroad, the State Department remains a very small part of the pageant. The Transportation Security Administration has about 58,000 employees; the State Department has about 22,000. The Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly 450,000 employees stationed overseas, with 2.5 million more in the US.

At the same time, Congress continues to hack away at State’s budget. The most recent round of bloodletting saw State lose some $8 billion while DOD gained another $5 billion. The found fiver at DOD will hardly be noticed in their overall budget of $671 billion. The $8 billion loss from State’s total of $47 billion will further cripple the organization. The pattern is familiar and has dogged State-DOD throughout the war of terror years.

I had heard this quote about the military band  from a young State Department envoy I know and on research found it was actually something Condolezza Rice said. And she was at least partly correct as you can see from the numbers above we don't put much money where our negotiating mouth is. Here are some more examples form Iraq on how skewed our approach to foreign policy is towards the military side.

The bottom line was that for most Iraqis not living and working in the Green Zone, the only Americans they saw wore green and carried weapons.

The militarization issue was always visible at the smallest units of diplomacy in Iraq, the PRTs. The Department of State struggled to field adequate numbers of qualified employees from among its own ranks, forcing the creation of an army of contractors, called 3161s after the name of the legislation in 5 USC 3161 that created their hiring program. The need for 3161s to live on a military base skewed hiring toward self-selecting former military, nearly self-defeating the idea of providing a civilian side to reconstruction.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in its review of the PRTs’ first year of operation found an Army veterinarian developing agriculture programs, an Air Force aviation maintenance manager as a PRT co-leader, and advisers to Iraqi provincial governors who included a former Navy submariner, a Marine ultrasound technician, and an Army drill sergeant. My own PRT staff fit a similar profile, with the exception of my agricultural adviser, a pig farmer from Missouri. He always felt a bit out of place in Iraq when no one wanted to discuss hogs with him

A sad story here that does not give you confidence that we are at all prepared to negotiate. The author also talked about the difficulties for the young Army Captains who were essentially the bulk of our "envoys" to Iraq who had to put down their guns and try to do diplomacy with essentially no training and a huge disadvantage in that they were negotiating with people who we had recently been shooting and whose relatives we often had killed.

There is also a critique of State and its ability to carry through Nation Building. Of course I and most of VFP would say that this Nation Building was nothing but a front to provide profits for private corporations that benefited from the unregulated and chaotic battle field conditions and the dismantling of state owned services in the conversion to the more profitable Free Market economy.  we also might say that Nation Building was irrelevant and probably impossible since Iraq will have to rebuild itself and cannot derive any benefits from the colonial approach of the US doing it for them although we definitely owe them reparations money which will probably never be paid. This is especially true since we started and seem to have remained totally ignorant and uninterested in Iraqi cultural traditions.  This last fact speaks to the flawed nature of our whole militarized foreign policy which not only puts the rest of the World at risk but makes Amreican citizens vulnerable to the blow-back it creates.

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