Our military leaders have long known that the best way to protect our national and world security is to adopt a two-part approach: diplomacy and a ready military. Our military relies on the State Department and the United Nations to push diplomatic solutions, so that military intervention isn’t always necessary. Secretary Mattis, along with other military leaders, recognize that it’s better to stop conflict before it starts. It was General Mattis who said to members of Congress during a National Security Council meeting, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.” The United Nations is another important arm of our diplomacy.
The United Nations was created to serve as a diplomatic solution to prevent another World War. 60 million people were killed in World War II. If war-related famine and disease deaths are added in, that total jumps to 80 million. After World War II, it became clear that diplomacy was critical if we were to prevent another world war. And the diplomacy works. Since 1996, UN peacekeeping efforts have contributed to a 40% decline in conflict around the world. The United States relies on UN peacekeepers for military support as well. After the September 11 attacks, United Nations peacekeepers were among the first “boots on the ground.” Today, there are 88,500 peacekeepers deployed throughout the world.
It is the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency that serves as the world’s nuclear inspector. The UN prosecutes war criminals and strengthens international law. The UN has adopted a global strategy to combat terrorism and the UN’s International Court of Justice helps settle international disputes, so that war can be avoided. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime works with the United States and our neighbors to stop drug trafficking, money-laundering and smuggling.
So, as the government pushes for a “skinnier” budget, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need diplomacy. Congress needs to say, “No” to the proposal to cut the State Department budget by 32% and the United Nations budget by 32%. General Mattis was right. If we don’t invest in diplomacy, he will have to buy more bullets.