The Underfunded Foreign Service

Everyone pinning their hopes on a new administration to jumpstart American diplomacy should keep in mind that the Foreign Service can’t do the job if they don’t have the money and the staff. This is from a radio panel discussion written up by Melinda Brouwer of the FPA’s U.S. Diplomacy blog:

Because of the lack of funding, the State Department just doesn’t have the people to do the job they need to do. Kojo mentioned that there are less diplomats employed in the FS than there are musicians employed by the Department of Defense.

I’m all for Army bands, but that’s kind of ridiculous. This issue has been getting more attention, in part due to high-profile advocates for the State Dept. (like Defense Secretary Robert Gates) pointing out how underfunded it is. Hopefully it will gather the critical mass necessary to reach a tipping point, because so far the predilection seems to be to militarize functions historically carried out by civil branches (reconstruction and humanitarian operations, for instance).

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