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Little funding for soft power

March 23, 2007

Re "Diplomacy gets shortchanged in terror fight," March 18

Here's how to solve the problem of our government under-funding diplomacy in the fight against terrorism: Dissolve the State Department, except for the Office for Shoveling Money at Our Buddies, and pay huge corporations (by way of unsupervised, no-bid, cost-plus contracts) to undertake all our diplomatic needs. I predict that, suddenly, billions of dollars will become available for urgent diplomacy.

GARY PAUDLER

Summerland, Calif.

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The tragic consequence of this shortsightedness is that we have an absolutely amazing infrastructure of embassies in almost every nation in the world, and it is made impotent in its mission by a lack of funding. We are hardly now a nation that mandates the use of soft power and nonviolence as the means of resolving conflict -- much different than when former Secretary of State George C. Marshall initiated his plan after World War II.

Tragically, we are on a track that sees wars without end -- even ones that we will preemptively choose to fight.

This administration has been a disaster for all things diplomatic, and the real casualty is the entire Department of State and all the good people who are highly educated in political science, foreign relations and public diplomacy and have dedicated themselves to making nonviolence the basis for American foreign policy.

ELIZABETH GILL LUI

Los Angeles

The writer is the author of "Building Diplomacy: The Architecture of American Embassies."

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