The Mullen Doctrine?

March 18, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Is there a Mullen Doctrine? On Tuesday, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent theorized there was one developing, based around the speech Mullen gave at Kansas State University on March 3. The Mullen Doctrine, as Ackerman fashions it, elevates diplomacy and development alongside defense as a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. “Before a shot is even fired, we can bolster a diplomatic argument, support a friend or deter an enemy,” Mullen said in the speech. “We can assist rapidly in disaster-relief efforts, as we did in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake.” Ackerman quotes Patrick Cronin, a former senior official at USAID, as noting the importance of investments in the international affairs budget. “There is an imbalance in our civilian capacity to work alongside the military in fragile states,” Cronin says.

The emergence of a prospective Mullen Doctrine comes as Secretary Gates has made increasing civilian capacity a major theme of his tenure. While also speaking at Kansas State University back in 2007, he said, “What is clear to me is that there is a need 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.”