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Senator: More Military Grocery Store Workers Than Diplomats at State Department

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses employees and their families at U.S. Embassy Mexico City on July 13, 2018. (State Department photo)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the U.S. government should dedicate more resources to “diplomacy” and “democracy promotion” overseas, noting that the U.S. currently has more military grocery store workers than diplomats working in the State Department.

“It’s time to start asking ourselves, can we adequately protect ourselves today if we spend 20 times as much money on the military and intelligence capacity than on diplomacy, energy security, anti-corruption, democracy promotion, anti-propaganda and economic development combined?” Murphy said recently during a Center for American Progress event marking the release of the organization’s new report, Securing a Democratic World: The Case for a Democratic Values-Driven U.S. Foreign Policy.

Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued that there is currently a “disastrous misdistribution of American resources” when it comes to international affairs and protecting democracy. He suggested that Congress begin to “reorient the way we set our international priorities” in the federal budget.

“What does it say about our understanding of the world today that we have more people working in military grocery stores than we have diplomats in the State Department?” he said.

Murphy said the U.S. is dealing with its own democracy challenges.

“When Trump lavishes praise upon dictators and insults democratically elected leaders, citizens of the world take notice and democratic movements die. Now, no matter what Donald Trump says about democracy overseas, the most critical threat to democracy that America faces is right here at home,” he said. “Let’s be honest: Democracy is on the ballot this November. Donald Trump’s one-word, all-caps tweet last night – ‘TREASON’ – that’s all the evidence you need to understand the stakes. We can’t talk about democracy promotion abroad if we’re not protecting it here at home.”

The Trump tweet to which Murphy referred was posted in reaction to the anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times said to be authored by a senior Trump administration official.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, author of Fascism: A Warning, said the U.S. government should only “offer” democracy to countries run by authoritarian regimes.

“You can’t impose democracy – that’s an oxymoron, much less with the military and I think that’s part of the issue. And I think it is deeply troubling, is I can understand why we went into Afghanistan …as far as I can see there was no reason to really go into Iraq, and as it turns out it was based on false information,” Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, said at the CAP event.

“As there was an attempt to rationalize why the Bush administration was in Iraq, all of a sudden they adopt the democratization aspect, meanwhile, giving a bad name to democracy,” she added. “And I think we need to make clear it is an appropriate value system for the United States not to impose it but to offer it to countries and to have partners there, and it’s reflective of the values of this country.”