U.S. military leaders are the first to advocate for proactive and coordinated development initiatives to prevent conflict and war, knowing that our men and women in uniform pay the highest cost in war. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”
According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, prioritizing development would be 60 times less expensive than military intervention and the subsequent assistance required for helping nations rebuild in the aftermath.
Although it’s supported and sensible, this is an understandably difficult strategy to sell because successful prevention does not attract popular attention. There are no videos and photos when a crisis is averted. There are no “hero” awards and higher approval ratings. And we live in an age of instant gratification where mere activity is mistaken for progress.
We cannot continue operating in civilian/military silos or relying on hard power alone. Prevention must be the objective key part of our national security strategy. Then, and only then, will aid no longer be seen as charity — but as an essential, modern tool of US national security, and an investment in our economic prosperity.