WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates renewed his call Tuesday for more spending on U.S. diplomacy and international aid, saying the U.S. government risks "creeping militarization" of its foreign policy by focusing its resources on the Pentagon.
With Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in attendance, Gates said in a speech that the government's civilian institutions, especially those with the tasks of diplomacy and development, had been undermanned and underfunded since the end of the Cold War.
Gates has made the argument before, most notably in November in an address at Kansas State University. But his speech Tuesday, before a group of business and nongovernmental groups in Washington, included some of his most pointed language yet, including a call for the U.S. to repair its standing in Muslim countries. But he said efforts to buff America's image were unlikely to help.
"The solution is not to be found in some slick PR campaign or by trying to out-propagandize Al Qaeda, but through the steady accumulation of actions and results that build trust and credibility over time," Gates said.