12/11/2007 12:12 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Man Bites Dog of War

Nice piece yesterday morning by James Carroll in The Boston Globe. He writes about what he calls "the radical militarization of foreign affairs."

A MAN bit a dog last week. Not just any man, and not just any dog. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates decried the vast disproportion between America's annual investment in the Pentagon - something like $700 billion - and what is spent on the State Department - about $35 billion. That's less, Gates said in a speech in Kansas, than the Defense Department spends on healthcare. The total number of foreign service officers is about 6,600 - which is less, Gates said, than the number of military personnel serving on one aircraft carrier strike group. The Secretary of defense identified himself as the man biting the dog when he called for "a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security - diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development."

Carroll correctly concludes

Arguably, the single largest threat to national security is the growing gulf between desperately impoverished peoples and those who have what they need to live. What is the Pentagon budget to that? Environmental degradation is also a massive national security threat. How do aircraft carriers help with that?

Confronting the gross inequities and extreme poverty in so much of our world would do far more for both national and global security than constantly increasing military budgets. Swords will be beaten into plowshares, the prophet Micah tells us, when each person has their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

Jim Wallis is the Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners and blogs at

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