Skip to content

Gates on Foreign Policy

In an article in Foreign Affairs, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls for less emphasis on military power in America’s foreign policy. 

Regarding the use of military power, Gates criticizes the failure to define clear goals for US military involvement and to let mission creep change the goals after military intervention starts.  There are many examples of this in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but also in the US intervention in Libya, which changed from humanitarian assistance to regime change. A new national security threat, cyber warfare, needs more attention

While he was Secretary of Defense, Gates often called for a bigger role for the State Department in Iraq.  He often pointed out that there were more members of military bands than Foreign Service officers.  Trump’s gutting of the State Department has made this situation even worse.  Gates calls for strengthening State and making it less bureaucratic, saying that the National Security Council cannot perform all the functions of the State Department, and he calls for re-establishing the roles of the related agencies, the US Agency for International Development, and the old US Information Agency.  USAID has withered while Chinese assistance to developing countries has expanded dramatically un the Belt and Road Initiative.  USIA has been rolled into the main State Department and has basically ceased to exist while the battle for world public opinion continues. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *