Saturday, November 20, 2010

QDDR: Defense and State...Together

The New Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review proposes combining some Department of State budgets with Department of Defense budgets.

The review suggest a key way the two departments combine budgets:

Interestingly, the document proposes to establish a joint planning and budgeting process between the State Department and the Defense Department in areas where the two institutions work together, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The document notes that the government is also "examin[ing] the creation of a unified National Security Budget." The idea of combining Defense and State Department funding into one pool has been proposed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before, but could face resistance on Capitol Hill.

A unified National Security Budget. On paper, this is a good idea: By combining budgets, it clarifies the multiple perspectives inherent in between two departments in a number of countries.

And yes, there are still roadblocks in this procedure. This DoD and DoS process significantly sidelines USAID as an aid-demanding agency. While this proposal could sideline USAID, it's significant toward a cohesive and multilateral approach to support for a number of countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and probably Yemen. While this approach may cost USAID its leverage in the process, it's certainly an improvement over the current process.Hopefully the relevant representatives of State realize that cooperation with Defense is worth any costs to USAID.

If anything, this could lead to a reduction in orientation "stovepipes." That is an invaluable contribution to the debate and could result in a significant balancing reaction to the Defense department.

Hopefully Congress gets on board.

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