Friday, May 1, 2009

US military makes US foreign policy

US military makes US foreign policy

The $400 Million Pakistan Fund: Who.s Counting?

* By Nathan Hodge Email Author
* May 1, 2009 |
* 1:40 pm |
* Categories: Af/Pak, Money Money Money, Perils of Pakistan

pakistan-buner1Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is asking Congress for a $400 million pot of money for Pakistan. In testimony yesterday before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which would be controlled by Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, is a .unique authority. that would help the U.S. military provide targeted aid to Pakistan.s military, including weapons, equipment and counterinsurgency training.

Set aside for a moment the dire circumstances in Pakistan that drive this request. This enormous pool of money . the first installment in a $3 billion, five-year plan . accelerates a pattern in U.S. foreign policy: turning to the military to solve problems that have traditionally been handled by civilian agencies.

The Pentagon.s expanding oversight of foreign military assistance programs, once the primary responsibility of the Department of State, is a relatively new phenomenon. The Department of Defense has justified this shift as part of a strategy to provide rapid response to emerging crises; but in parallel, it has pushed to make .Section 1206. authority . which give funds to the Pentagon to build the military capacity of partner nations . permanent.

Pakistan has been the primary laboratory for this expansion. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, Islamabad has recieved the largest chunk of Section 1206 funds . $92.9 million . since Fiscal Year 2006.

This kind of funding is supposed to pay for emergency military assistance to countries vulnerable to terrorism and insurgency: Pakistan, for instance, has enhanced its air-assault capability with 1206 funds. But as Spencer Ackerman noted already, the Pentagon and the Obama administration will still have some serious questions to answer about how Pakistan accounts for the new funds it receives.

A few years back, Dana Priest published an entire book about the rise of the military as the primary instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Regional combatant commanders (then known as .CinCs.) had enormous resources at their disposal, eclipsing ambassadors in power and influence. The shift took place with almost no public debate, Priest observed. .Long before September 11,. she wrote, .the U.S. government had grown increasingly dependent on its military to carry out its foreign affairs. The shift was incremental, little noticed, de facto. It did not even qualify as an .approach.. The military simply filled a vacuum left by an indecisive White House, an atrophied State Department, and a distracted Congress..

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posted by u2r2h at 2:48 PM


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