Alternatives to War

Sophomores to freshmen: support the international affairs budget

Second-term Reps. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) banded together to send an important message to new incoming members of the House: support the foreign affairs budget:

We must work together to ensure that our national security focuses on the three pillars — defense, diplomacy and development. Neglecting the second two pillars can be costly — in terms of unnecessary spending and, more important, American lives.

National security experts repeatedly extol the virtues and importance of a strong international affairs budget to keep our nation safe and build our economy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has highlighted the importance of diplomacy and development in U.S. foreign policy. “Without development,” Gates said, “we will not be successful in either Iraq or Afghanistan.” He asserted, “Economic development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

Gates is not alone in his assessment of international development as a key foreign policy tool. Numerous bipartisan commissions, among them the 2006 National Security Strategy, the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the 9/11 commission and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, all concluded that a strong and effective international affairs budget is essential to ensuring U.S. security in the 21st century…

…As freshmen, you are likely to face a dizzying array of difficult decisions. But foreign assistance shouldn’t be one of them. A strong and effective international affairs budget is critical to our national and economic security.

2 replies »

  1. It’s really hard to convince an intelligent person that spending money in foreign countries is better than helping the needy in our own, especially when we are borrowing that money from foreign countries to begin with.

    We send billions to China in foreign aid, and then barrow trillions from China. The math does not add up. We need to stop borrowing money and balance our budget first, then we can send aid out of our surplus.

    I would love to be able to give money to every homeless person I come across, but if I don’t pay my mortgage first my family will be joining them on the street. Same for foreign aid. If we ignore our country’s need in order to help other poorer nations, it won’t be long until we are in the same position they are in.

    Thank you for your time and for posting this article.

    • We are certainly not arguing that foreign aid should replace aid for the needy in the United States. The point is that we can easily afford both if we get our priorities straight. Our entire foreign affairs budget is about 1% of discretionary spending. It’s hardly bankrupting the government. Not only that, but it serves a critical purpose in creating stability and helping people in need. Most Americans,when polled, say we should spend about 10% of the budget on foreign aid.

      If we want more money to spend on domestic needs, we should be looking at the bloated Pentagon budget, which accounts for more than half of discretionary spending. Our work is dedicated to shifting resources away from things like wars that cause harm to programs at home and abroad that can help create stability and prosperity.

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