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Friday, March 17, 2017

Close Embassies, Buy More Ammo By Amb. Patrick N. Theros

Close Embassies, Buy More Ammo

By Amb. Patrick N. Theros

March 15, 2017

The full quote from Secretary of Defense James Mattis reads “If State Department funding gets cut I need to buy more ammo.” This might appear counterintuitive coming from a guy whom President Trump appointed because they call him “Mad Dog.”

However, another 121 retired generals and admirals signed a letter that supported Secretary Mattis and noted that State and related agencies “lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield, [the military] “needs strong partners to combat issues that drive extremism, including insecurity, injustice, hopelessness, and lack of opportunity.”

This followed the Trump White House announcement of a proposed defense budget that increases spending by 10% ($54 billion) and took the cut from domestic agencies, especially, State Department operations and foreign assistance.

Steve Bannon and his hypernationalist colleagues in the White House see themselves as grand strategists; they are in fact little kids playing soldier. They believe overwhelming military power resolves all problems. They have contempt for diplomatic professionals and soft power.

They know the American public has long been conditioned to believe that a huge foreign assistance budget has pauperized America for the benefit of foreigners. Therefore, Mr. Bannon and company see no political cost to cutting foreign aid.

The popular ignorance is real and extends to virtually all levels of society. In 1994, I spoke to the Foreign Affairs Association in a major Midwestern city.  My audience was incensed that my office had a $50,000 dollar program training foreign police to protect airlines (never mind they might fly on one of them).

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