Though the United States devotes roughly $660 billion a year to the military to protect the U.S. from its enemies, influential military leaders have spoken out about the efficacy of foreign aid and diplomacy, rather than military action, for improving national security. Military action is unavoidable in some circumstances, but a rising number of high-ranking military officials are beginning to back an increased budget for foreign aid. Listed below are 5 quotes from military and intelligence officials about the power of aid in relieving global poverty.

  1. “In many respects, USAID’s efforts can do as much over the long term to prevent conflict as the deterrent effect of a carrier strike group or a marine expeditionary force.” – Lieutenant General John Allen, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan
  2. “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” – Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense
  3. “To truly end the threat from al-Qaeda, military force aimed at killing our enemy alone will never be enough. The United States must stay involved and invested through diplomacy, through development, through education, through trade in those regions of the world where violent extremism has flourished.”- Leon Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense
  4. “Robust resourcing for the State Department’s mission is one of the best investments for reducing the need for military forces to be employed. Together, our military leaders and our diplomats not only represent a symbol of America’s enduring commitment to the region, but they also build trust through partnerships that have an important stabilizing effect when trouble looms.” – General James N. Mattis, Commander, U.S. Central Command
  5. “Our enemies today are not as cut and dry as they were in the Cold War. Conditions in the world such as grinding poverty, pandemic disease and severe food insecurity serve as seeds from which extremism and instability can grow. By addressing these issues, we diffuse many of today’s national security threats and keep our troops out of harm’s way.” – General Michael Hagee, Retired Commandant of U.S. Marine Corps and Admiral James Loy, Retired Commandant of U.S. Coast Guard

– Katie Bandera

Sources: USGLC, The Borgen Project, Politico
Photo: Free republic, Politico, Washington Independent, Algemeiner


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