Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a forceful case to Congress last week on the importance of President Obama’s recently submitted request for the fiscal 2011 International Affairs Budget. In four separate hearings – on back-to-back days – before House and Senate authorizers and appropriators, Clinton discussed the budget request for U.S. foreign affairs spending and explicitly linked it to our national security and national interests.
Of the $4.9 billion increase from FY2010, $3.6 billion would go to what the State Department calls “frontline states”—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The remainder represents a mere 2.7% increase that Clinton said would “address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people and resources.”
She acknowledged current economic constraints, citing her former role as U.S. Senator and the valid concerns of constituents across the country: “For every dollar we spend, we have to show results.” But she went on to affirm that the budget request supports programs that are “vital to our national security, our national interests, and our leadership in the world, while guarding against waste, duplication, and irrelevancy.”
In elevating the role of development within U.S. foreign policy, Clinton said the budget “makes targeted investments in fragile societies which, in our interconnected world, bear heavily on our own security and prosperity.” She also argued for paying it forward, that a little bit now will go a long way: “These investments are a key part of our effort to get ahead of crises rather than just responding to them, positioning us to deal with the threats and challenges that lie before us.” To bring this point home, she emphasized: “We can bury our heads in the sand and pay the consequences later, or we can make hard-nosed, targeted investments now, addressing the security challenges of today while building a stronger foundation for security and prosperity in the future.”
She highlighted the Administration’s global food security and health initiatives, along with climate change, as the major components of the budget’s investments in development. A cross-cutting focus of these initiatives is women and girls “who are the key drivers of economic and social progress in the developing world.”
There will also be money for an additional 410 Foreign Service Officers at the State Department and 200 at USAID in an ongoing effort to ramp up civilian capacity.
“These initiatives are designed to enhance American security, help people in need, and give the American people a strong return on their investment,” Clinton concluded. “Our aim is not to create dependency, but to help people develop solutions that they can sustain for themselves over the long term.”