Adm. Mullen Writes Letter on Smart Power

May 25, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen took the extraordinary step of writing Speaker Pelosi and Senator Majority Leader Reid in support of the International Affairs budget. The letter is frank in its language, asserting that diplomacy and development have been underfunded for too long, leaving the military to bear the brunt of what should properly be civilian tasks. “We are living in times that require an integrated national security program with budgets that fund the full spectrum of national security efforts, including vitally important pre-conflict and post-conflict civilian stabilization programs,” the letter reads. Adm. Mullen draws on his impressive personal history to make the case for diplomacy and development. “I have been on record many times since 2005 expressing my views of the importance of fully funding our diplomatic efforts,” he writes, including a quotation of his as Chief of Naval Operations asserting that he would hand over part of his budget to the State Department. Equally extraordinary is his personal, handwritten note at the end: “The more significant the cuts, the longer military operations will take, and the more and more lives are at risk!”

Adm. Mullen joins a growing number of military supporters in calling for increases to the International Affairs Budget. In March, over 50 retired military leaders signed a letter calling on Congress to fully fund President Obama’s $58.5 billion International Affairs Budget request. They described the International Affairs Budget as “a fundamental pillar of U.S. national security and foreign policy,” and that “the United States must combine its strong military with robust, effective civilian tools of international development and diplomacy to secure its national interests in an era when many of the challenges of the 21st century recognize no borders.”