Print this page

3D Security: Development, Diplomacy and Defense

Security means freedom from fear and freedom from want.

"1D Security" - Solely Defense

It is easy to assume that United States and global security are linked solely to military action. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has focused primarily on a security approach that is one-dimensional. We have relied only on military defense to have an immediate impact. In 2009, only 1% of U.S. tax dollars went to global spending on diplomacy and development efforts while 33% went to the military.

The United States needs a foreign policy in which we keep an eye on the bigger picture and turn toward diverse solutions for security. There are many different causes of global insecurity, such as global warming, infectious disease and insurgencies that all require more than just military defense. A comprehensive approach of development and diplomacy with military defense make up the three D’s of security that are effective and responsible.

"3D Security:" A three-prong approach to U.S. and Global Security:


Threats to our country, such as terrorism, often come from fragile states where hopelessness and lawlessness exist. United States development assistance at its best builds economic, social and political foundations as it stabilizes communities and societies to better the future for millions of vulnerable people. Despite assumptions that development is charity work and not a security tactic, programs are created to work with people, not to do things for them. Development government and nongovernmental organizations work to improve the quality of life for people in different countries (i.e. through schools, healthcare centers and clean water). Programs also address root causes of non-state sponsored violence, create jobs, and strengthen local democratic institutions.


Diplomacy uses democratic dialogue in order to build partnerships with leaders to address issues of U.S. and global security. There are two different modes of diplomacy: Track I and Track II. Track I one refers to official government negotiations while Track II is unofficial diplomacy (sometimes called “back door channels”) with religious, business or other civil society leaders.

There are many ways in which diplomacy works. Through partnerships, we are able to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks, secure our economic future, protect the environment, and prevent future crises.

Military Defense

Currently, military defense is a form of security in which a variety of military tasks are performed. Recently, this option was used in waging full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but experts believe that the military requires new strategies and training. We have been dependent on expensive hardware, and overwhelming military force has been ineffective. Defense has had positive impacts in logistical coordination—for example, humanitarian aid after the 2004 tsunami and 2010 earthquake in Haiti and policing in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. The military has the capacity to deliver quick response to monumental needs. The military has neither the training nor the expertise to do the long-term development and diplomacy required for real security.  In order to have long lasting global security, military strategies need to adapt to 21st century security challenges and to be integrated into a comprehensive plan.


“Our national security toolbox must be equipped with more than just hammers.” - Secretary Of Defense Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, General Petraeus and President Obama all agree that the U.S. is faced with complex threats that require diverse solutions. The State