Skip to main content

px1946c.jpg

Peace Through Development

American foreign policy has failed in recent years mainly because the US relied on military force to address problems that demand development assistance and diplomacy. Although Barack Obama has raised hopes for a new strategy, so far the forces of continuity in US policy are dominating the forces of change.

New York – American foreign policy has failed in recent years mainly because the United States relied on military force to address problems that demand development assistance and diplomacy. Young men become fighters in places like Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan because they lack gainful employment. Extreme ideologies influence people when they can’t feed their families, and when lack of access to family planning leads to an unwanted population explosion. President Barack Obama has raised hopes for a new strategy, but so far the forces of continuity in US policy are dominating the forces of change.

The first rule in assessing a government’s real strategy is to follow the money. America vastly overspends on the military compared with other areas of government. Obama’s projected budgets do not change that. For the coming 2010 fiscal year, Obama’s budget calls for $755 billion in military spending, an amount that exceeds US budget spending in all other areas except so-called “mandatory” spending on social security, health care, interest payments on the national debt, and a few other items.

Indeed, US military spending exceeds the sum of federal budgetary outlays for education, agriculture, climate change, environmental protection, ocean protection, energy systems, homeland security, low-income housing, national parks and national land management, the judicial system, international development, diplomatic operations, highways, public transport, veterans affairs, space exploration and science, civilian research and development, civil engineering for waterways, dams, bridges, sewerage and waste treatment, community development, and many other areas.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/BEpDD54;
  1. bildt69_DELIL SOULEIMANAFP via Getty Images_syriansoldiermissilegun Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

    Time to Bite the Bullet in Syria

    Carl Bildt

    US President Donald Trump's impulsive decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria and allow Turkey to launch a military campaign against the Kurds there has proved utterly disastrous. But a crisis was already inevitable, given the realities on the ground and the absence of a coherent US or Western policy in Syria.

    7

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions