Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chair Calls For More Emphasis On Diplomacy, ‘Soft Power’ In U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. foreign policy should rely more on diplomacy and “soft power,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a speech at Kansas State University on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports. “U.S. foreign policy is still too dominated by the military – too dependent upon the generals and admirals who lead our major overseas commands and not enough on the State Department,” Mullen said, the AFP reports.

The news service continues: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary [Rodham] Clinton ‘have called for more funding and more emphasis on our soft power, and I could not agree with them more, the admiral said” (2/3). 

In a “shift in thinking, Mullen said in his speech that policymakers now and in the future should consider the U.S. military not as a last-resort solution in a crisis, but as part of early American responses to conflicts and disasters,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “‘Military forces are some of the most flexible and adaptable tools available to policymakers,’ Mullen said. ‘Before a shot is even fired, we can bolster a diplomatic argument, support a friend or deter an enemy.’ Mullen emphasized that military power must be used alongside other government tools,” the newspaper writes (Barnes, 3/4).

Mullen cited a 2009 speech by President Barack Obama and called for increasing investment in other departments, “such as homeland security, intelligence, and the State Department, whose budget pales compared to massive Pentagon funding,” the Christian Science Monitor writes. “My fear, quite frankly, is that we aren’t moving fast enough in this regard,” Mullen said.

The article includes reaction to Mullen’s ideas by foreign policy experts (Lubold, 3/3).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.