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On July 31, 2008, U.S. Senator Joseph Biden the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on the role of the U.S. Military in foreign relations. We have posted links to his and ranking member Senator Richard Lugar opening statements. We also included those of George Rupp of the IRC.

July 31, 2008 statement of Sen. Biden concerning the "expanding" role of the military in U.S. foreign policy

“I share the concern that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently raised. ‘The military,’ he said, ‘has become more involved in a range of activities that in the past were perceived to be the exclusive province of civilian agencies and organizations…This has led to concern…about what’s seen as a creeping ‘militarization’…of America’s foreign policy. This is not an entirely unreasonable sentiment.’

July 31, 2008 statement of Sen. Lugar concerning the role of the U.S. military in foreign relations

 "As this debate continues, we must address several fundamental questions. In the long term, should DOD be involved in global programs of a purely civilian nature? What are the consequences of U.S. engagement being fronted by a military uniform?

July 31, 2008 statement of George Rupp, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee 

"As my first point, I would like to acknowledge the vital contribution international disaster assistance that the U.S. Military provides at crucial times of urgent need..." One of the most crucial components of NGO staff security in the field is the acceptance by local committee's of our presence." We cultivate this acceptance by valuing cultural sensitivity, understanding local customs, demonstrating commitment in a community or refugee camp..."

Military troops can compromise the security of NGO staff by blurring the lines between military and civilian humanitarian personnel. If we work too close to the military, NGO's become vulnerable to accusations that we are agents of the Pentagon or spies rather than operationally independent humanitarian workers."

 

Latest News Headlines From Around the Globe:

Obstructed efforts in Myanmar cost lives, Defense Secretary Gates says

The Associated Press

Myanmar's obstruction of international efforts to help cyclone victims cost "tens of thousands of lives," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday in his strongest condemnation to date of the military government there.  With U.S., British and French Navy ships off the coast of Myanmar poised to leave because they have been blocked from delivering assistance to the ravaged country, Gates said the U.S. will not forcefully bring in supplies without permission of the government, and will continue to "respect the sovereignty" of Myanmar.

 

3-star urges cooperation in disaster response
By Julia Zappei - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 23, 2008 11:42:01 EDT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The U.S. has urged Asia-Pacific air forces to plan and cooperate more in disaster relief efforts, saying Tuesday that the region faces a “tremendous potential” for calamities like Myanmar’s Cyclone Nargis.  “The tragedy with Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar was something that could have been avoided. Not the fact that the weather and the floods came but the fact assistance and a helping hand did not come in a timely manner,” he said.

 

 

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