The Washington Times - July 16, 2008, 12:00PM

American diplomats have found an unlikely hero in Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Ever since he first publicly advocated drastically increasing the State Department’s budget at the expense of the Pentagon’s in November, I’ve been receiving e-mail messages from Foreign Service officers around the world full of praise for Mr. Gates.

Now those diplomats have another reason to be grateful to the defense chief. On Tuesday, he issued a warning about something that has been worrying the Foreign Service for years — the “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy.

“The Foreign Service is not the Foreign Legion, and the U.S. military should never be mistaken for a Peace Corps with guns,” Mr. Gates said at a dinner organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign.

“Broadly speaking, when it comes to America’s engagement with the rest of the world, it is important that the military is — and is clearly seen to be — in a supporting role to civilian agencies,” he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who introduced Mr. Gates at the dinner, also paid tribute to his advocacy for her agency.

 “I tell people sometimes that I think this is the first time in our history that the secretary of defense is employed as an active lobbyist for the State Department,” Miss Rice said



Nicholas Kralev, diplomatic correspondent, The Washington Times