On paper, the concept of 3D — integrating US defense, diplomacy, and development efforts — promises to elevate the latter two “D’s” into real policy alternatives to military force. However, it seems clear now that despite the hype, 3D is failing to strengthen the role of development and diplomacy in US foreign policy.
In recent months both the US State Department and USAID have faced serious threats to their budgets, while the Defense Department has been spared. US foreign policy is (and will likely be in the foreseeable future) highly military-centric. In this environment, the reality of 3D is that it is less about putting diplomacy and development in their proper place in foreign policy discussions and more about making both of them underfunded auxiliaries of the US military (something many in the DoD oppose). If 3D is to be a viable foreign policy strategy, the budgets of USAID and State must be expanded, not cut.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.