‘Global Leadership’ Through Foreign Assistance Is ‘Strategic Imperative’ For U.S.

“[T]oday, with the national debt approaching $14.7 trillion, Americans rightly demand fiscal responsibility. Yet efforts in Congress to cut billions from the president’s proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are short-sighted,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He adds that “all of our foreign aid programs and foreign policy initiatives — from sending diplomats to Afghanistan to helping reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa — cost less than one-tenth of our annual military expenditures” and “comprises a mere 1.5 percent” of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.

Foreign assistance supports national security through “diplomatic overtures,” Kerry says, detailing progress made in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. He also notes that the “global presence” of the U.S. “creates jobs.” Kerry continues, “In addition to these strategic efforts, foreign assistance programs that vaccinate children against polio, engage at-risk youth in Central America, give young girls in Afghanistan the opportunity to go to school, or provide HIV/AIDS treatments to millions in sub-Saharan Africa do more than just ease suffering and increase opportunity around the world. They also promote core U.S. national security interests by stabilizing regions that could otherwise become incubators for radicalism.” He concludes that “energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries” (2/29).