Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quickie: Small Change for Public Diplomacy

Reports indicate that the Department of Defense will pay private contractors $300 million over three years to produce news and entertainment programs for the Iraqi public. Kristin M. Lord, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Project on US Relations with the Islamic World and Foreign Policy Studies program asks why the Department of Defense getting so much money and personnel to carry out the mission. She argues that the State Department, not the Pentagon, should lead America's public diplomacy efforts.

Lord points out that “the $100 million annual price tag of the initiative described above is just one element of the Pentagon's communication efforts in one country. Yet, it is equivalent to roughly one-eighth of the State Department's entire public diplomacy budget for the entire world.”

“Whereas $100 million per year is big money for public diplomats, it is small change for the military, which spends $434 million per day in Iraq. The State Department, meanwhile, must meet a host of pressing concerns ranging from short-term communication needs to long-term educational exchanges with about $800 million per year.”

Let me screw my head tighter here - we're underfunding State then complains that things are not getting done, then we're giving all that money to private contractors to help grow our ailing capitalism (sweet jeez, not KBR, Halliburton, and all that, again?), then contractors put together telenovelas and Iraqi Idol for our Iraqi friends and neighbors? Holy crap!

I think I'll have some milk with melamine now, please. You can read the entire text here.

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