Even as Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, and other developing areas of the world are struggling to recover stability from the chaos of recent natural and social events, we in the U.S. continue to deal with problems inside our own borders. Recovering from our own natural and social problems presents persistent concern; but as we learned from 9/11 and the wars that followed (and continue on to this day), our foreign and domestic policies need to work together as an integrative system. Our modern global society demands nothing less.
President Obama understands that an investment in stabilizing other nations provides a protective benefit for our nation that defense is incapable of providing alone. His request for $58.5 billion to be allocated to the U.S. International Affairs Budget will help reinforce the support of the three pillars essential for our national security (defense, diplomacy, and development) as noted consistently by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while working under both former President George W. Bush and now President Barack Obama. This is not a partisan issue, as we have seen support from both major parties in the House and Senate last December through a letter to President Obama requesting robust international affairs spending. General Petraeus also called for the same increased support in development on a recent visit to Brigham Young University; namely to help farmers in Afghanistan. These funds would keep in operation programs working on U.S. front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. The programs are very much like Utah’s Ouelessebougou Alliance, which does development in Mali, Africa, focusing primarily on public health and education. However, there is currently a motion in the Senate to cut spending by $4 billion.
For Americans, funding programs sustained by the International Affairs Budget has a relatively small cost. The International Affairs Budget represents less than 1.5% of the total federal budget, as compared with defense, which comprises about 25%. For the countless lives to be saved, alliances to be forged, and communities to be shaped, $58.5 billion is still a very significant investment. The programs have worked in the past, but they need continued support to flourish. Secretary Gates has noted that there need to be more resources devoted to the institutions of diplomacy and development to complement his role of leading our defense. Senators Kerry and Lugar have both responded to this call in non-partisan fashion by writing a letter to Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Gregg of the U.S. Senate outlining the need for full International Affairs Budget funding.
As a Congressional District Leader for the One Campaign, an international grassroots organization dedicated to the eradication of poverty and preventable disease, I strongly urge all Americans to contact our Senators and ask them to support full funding of the International Affairs Budget for the 2011 Fiscal Year by signing on to the Kerry-Lugar letter.
To send a message to your Senator, please visit One.org by following the direct link here: http://www.one.org/call/signup.html?cp_id=77&mode=senate