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The Benefits of Augmented Civilian Capacity

Suzanne Nossel and David Shorr
May 2008

Despite America’s superpower status, our government is not as effective as it should be in conducting its day-to-day relations with the rest of the world. Having allowed our civilian international affairs agencies to atrophy, the United States’ capacity to deal with other nations and affect global conditions falls far short of our stake in those relationships and conditions. There is a strikingly broad consensus among policy experts who call for strengthened civilian capacity (Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been especially vocal), but policy consensus is not matched by the political will to spur action. One key to generating support, and resources, will be to make the problem and the solution tangible. A Stanley Foundation-Center for a New American Security project on these issues asked the foundation’s David Shorr and Suzanne Nossel of the Center for American Progress to compile a list of benefits that an increased investment in civilian capacity should yield.
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