The military's evolving role in U.S. foreign policy decision-making
Most Americans would be shocked to learn that something like 95 percent of the foreign affairs budget of the federal government is devoted to the military. National security accounts for about twenty percent of the entire federal budget, but the public seems to have an altogether different perspective: According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted in March of this year, Americans think foreign affairs make up forty percent of the budget, with thirty percent of the budget devoted to the military and the remaining ten percent devoted to foreign aid. Despite the high numbers given the military, the militarism built into the federal budget seems to spark very little concern.
It's no surprise that the average Americans doesn't realize how little we really spend on foreign assistance, or even how much we spent on the military. Foreign aid is a little under one percent of the federal budget, but the public discourse focuses on it so much it's easy to assume it takes up far more of our resources than it does. Similarly, the stupendous cost of the military--with its millions of employees and soldiers, 761 foreign bases, and thousands of U.S.-based facilities--simply doesn't compute with the public. Further, the military has a built-in constituency: supporting the soldiers is a patriotic duty; advocating on behalf civilians in foreign policy, like the State Department's Foreign Service Officers, is at best enabling limp-wristed decadence.