US Foreign Policy

Establishing the Next President’s National Security Agenda: Strengthening the Civilian Instrument

The next president will inherit a severe and growing imbalance in the tool kit he has available for dealing with the national security challenges of the early twenty-first century. In the first three parts of this series, I described these challenges and recommended steps to strengthen the White House’s capability to define policy and provide guidance to agencies. I have also underlined the importance of getting defense planning and budgeting under control.

The final task is to repair the decades of damage and disorder that have weakened our civilian instruments of statecraft. As a nation, we have come to rely excessively on the military instruments of power, and have let the weeds grow in the garden of diplomacy and development/foreign assistance. The next Congress and president need to place a high priority on righting this imbalance.

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