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A new U.S. focus on nation-building

Critics say the Bush administration is relying too heavily on the military.

Getting along: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talks with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Capitol Hill April 15, prior to testifying before the House Armed Services Committee.

Susan Walsh/AP

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George W. Bush resisted calls to do nation-building during his 2000 campaign, but eight years later, his cabinet is making fundamental changes to reorganize the way the American government can prop up countries around the world.

As the US spends billions to build the military and governance capacity of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration finds it has no choice but to support such efforts in other emerging countries.

But analysts and members of Congress warn that a recent push by the administration for more money for train-and-equip programs relies too heavily on the Defense Department, and those initiatives will continue to erode the powers of non-military agencies.

"I would argue that what it will do over time is just continue to emasculate the civilian agencies," says Kathleen Hicks, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. "[The State Department] is never going to be able to compete with money and people, and if the mission goes, then you'll continue to rely on the military."

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