The Responsibility to Prevent
The good news for 2009 is that war is becoming obsolete. The United States and many of its global partners are developing other tools to respond to, and even prevent, deadly conflict.Thanks to lobbying by FCNL and other groups, Republicans and Democrats are open to serious reinvestment in diplomacy, development, and international cooperation. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has decried the decline of U.S. “soft power.” The U.S. public is weary of war and seeking new, effective ways for building a more peaceful, just world. The Obama-Biden transition team has already signaled its support for renewing U.S. diplomatic leadership, strengthening the State Department, creating a reserve corps of civilian peacebuilders, cutting global poverty in half, and doubling foreign aid. This is the year for change.
This window of opportunity for bipartisan change is opening wider, but it could close quickly. Policymakers face a long list of daunting challenges: the global and domestic economic crises, global warming, and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of Congress will be under intense pressure to cut spending and avoid new investments. It will be a challenge to help Congress see the billions of dollars that could be saved if the United States favored a preventive approach to conflict rather than late military responses.
Members of Congress need to hear from you, their constituents, that rebalancing U.S. security should be one of their top priorities in 2009. FCNL lobbyists are also taking that message to Congress and to the administration. In our recent report, The Responsibility to Prevent, we call on the U.S. government to make good on its endorsement of an emerging global norm to protect civilians from genocide and other mass atrocities, a norm known as the “responsibility to protect.” The United States should fulfill this commitment by investing more resources in keeping conflicts from turning deadly in the first place.
The report and this newsletter are part of our ongoing response to the question, “If war is not the answer, what is?” By strengthening U.S. contributions in three areas, diplomacy, development, and international cooperation, the United States could shift its foreign policy away from late military reaction to crises and toward early, peaceful prevention. That change would save lives and treasure.
In this newsletter we review our proposals for building U.S. capacities in each of these areas, as well as the opportunities that Congress and the administration will have to advance them this year.
- Diplomacy: Double the number of well-trained and deployable State Department personnel and strengthen civilian crisis prevention and response capabilities.
- Development: Strengthen the U.S. Agency for International Development, enact comprehensive foreign aid reform, and reassert civilian control over all foreign assistance.
- International cooperation. Rebuild U.S.-U.N. relations, pay off all U.S. debt to the United Nations, and support U.N. peacebuilding and prevention efforts.
As the Obama administration and new Congress take office, we’ll need your help to enact real policy change in Washington. Read on to find out what a new U.S. foreign policy to prevent atrocities and deadly conflict might look like, and how you can support FCNL in making that vision a reality.