With the recent elections in Tunisia and end of the war in Libya, the peoples in North Africa have an opportunity to build a hopeful future that values the principles of freedom and liberty. At the same time, the U.S. has an opportunity to promote democracy and stability, and avoid the rise of regimes as unfriendly to the U.S. as those that have been deposed.  While their futures must be determined by themselves, if the United States does nothing to help promote stability and build new allies in this strategic region, it could become a lost opportunity to spur democracy in this strategic region.

Unfortunately, the development and diplomacy tools that enable the U.S. to assist Libya and the other Arab Spring nations are now facing disproportionate cuts in Congress. The current budget negotiations in Congress include as much as a 20% reduction of our International Affairs programs in non-war areas over just two years – the steepest cuts since the height of the Cold War.

Leaders in the Executive Branch, from both parties in Congress, and from the military have voiced concerns about the impacts of these cuts on the U.S.’s ability to respond to the Arab Spring and the transition to civilian leadership in Iraq and ensure a positive outcome for U.S. interests.

 
Bipartisan Concerns about Cuts to Development and Diplomacy

Military Leaders

- General James Mattis

- Admiral Mike Mullen

- General David Petraeus

 

Members of Congress

- Congressman Berman (D-CA)

- Congressman Rohrabacher (R-CA)

- Senator Blunt (R-MO)

- Senator Graham (R-SC)

- Senators Graham (R-SC), Kirk (R-IL), McCain (R-AZ), and Rubio (R-FL)

- Senator Kerry (D-MA)

- Senator McCain (R-AZ)

- Senator Lieberman (I-CT)

- Senator Lugar (R-IN)

- Senator Rubio (R-FL)

 

Administration / Former Administration

- President George W. Bush

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

- USAID Administrator Raj Shah

 

Military Leaders

General James Mattis Commander, US Central Command

“As the transition to civilian leader in Iraq, it is essential that the State Department be sufficiently resourced to solidify relationships between the United States and Iraq for the future.” Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, March 1, 2011

Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“The diplomatic and developmental capabilities of the United States have a direct bearing on our ability to shape threats and reduce the need for military action. It is my firm belief that diplomatic programs as part of a coordinated strategy will save money by reducing the likelihood of active military conflict involving U.S. forces.” Letter to Senate Majority Leader, May 21, 2010

General David Petraeus, Director of the CIA

“The bottom line is that I stated that this category of funding… is so essential to building on the hard-fought security gains that our troopers sacrificed so much to achieve. This category of spending is really a national security funding issue, not just an issue of foreign assistance.  Without that construction of governance and development on the foundation of security achieved by our men and women in uniform, you cannot consolidate your gains.” – Testimony before House Armed Services Committee, March 16, 2011

Members of Congress

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

“The President laid out a plan for an AID program for some Middle Eastern countries whose internal stability is challenged by recent events. The plan would consist of a combination of grants, of loans, of debt forgiveness, and the President’s plan, I believe, has merit and there is value to a robust role for the United States to support certain governments at a critical time.” – From a speech on the Senate floor, May 19, 2011

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“When it comes to forming an Egyptian democracy, we must keep in mind the basic institutions of democracy are virtually non-existent right now.  There is much work to be done in forming viable political parties and the basic foundations of democratic institutions.  It will take them time to build capacity.  And from the United States perspective, it is in our own national security interests to assist them, where appropriate, in the forming of democratic institutions and a civil society. […] Finally, one of the lessons to learn from these recent events shows us how vital it is to build effective communications and relationships throughout the world.  For the past 30 years we have spent American tax dollars to build relationships between the United States and Egyptian military.  This long relationship bore at least some measure of fruit during the recent crisis when the Egyptian military remained loyal to the people of Egypt – not its ruler.  This should serve as both a reminder and an example of why the United States must always resist the temptation to disengage from the world.” – From a statement to the press, February 11, 2011

“…[I]f we can support the Arab Spring, China and Russia are going to think, will it come here?

This is the best opportunity in my lifetime to put dictatorships, secular and theocratic, under scrutiny and under pressure. That takes money, it takes diplomacy, it takes international effort, and on some occasions it takes military force.” –From a speech at the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, June 15, 2011

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Mark Kirk (R-IL)

“It is in our national interest for Libya to consolidate the gains of its revolution, and in the critical months ahead we must deepen our support for the Libyan people.” –Wall Street Journal op-ed, October 7, 2011

“Americans have had their disagreements over the U.S. intervention in Libya, but the sources of those disagreements are now fading into history. What remains is an enormous opportunity for the U.S. to build a partnership with a democratic and pro-American Libya that contributes to the expansion of security, prosperity and freedom across a pivotal region at a time of revolutionary change. This is a worthy goal that should unite Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the president, America and our allies. Libyans will build their own nation. But they desire and deserve our support. And it is in our interest to help them succeed.” –Wall Street Journal op-ed, October 7, 2011

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

“…just as we did in Eastern Europe immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I think we have the ability to play a hugely constructive role in what happens and how events unfold in the Middle East and we can affirm the values of democracy as well as serve the larger strategic interests of our friends and allies, and of the people of these countries as well as ourselves by seizing this moment and recognizing the opportunity that it presents. And that is why I am working with Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman on legislation to support these new and fledgling democracies in that region.” –Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, March 17, 2011

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

“Senator McCain and I were in Tunisia and Egypt a couple of weeks ago, and one of the messages we got, particularly from the young people who have been at the head of this remarkable uprising in these two countries, was: Don’t stand by. Please, America, don’t stand by and let Qadhafi bludgeon his own people who are asking for the same rights and opportunity and freedoms we have been asking for. If you do, it will end the movement of freedom and opportunity across the Arab world.” – From a speech on the Senate floor, March 14, 2011

Senator  Richard Lugar (R-IN)

“A second element, closely connected to the first, is strong support for economic modernization. In the short run, that means helping Egypt and Tunisia, for example, to navigate past significant difficulties created by political turmoil and the temporary collapse of tourism. But that also means thinking boldly and ambitiously about how we can promote genuine long-term modernization. We strongly support the Enterprise Fund that you, Mr. Chairman, and Senators McCain and Lieberman have proposed. Secretary Clinton just announced that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, will provide up to $2 billion to stimulate private sector investments in the Middle East and North Africa.  It is also crucially important to consider trade liberalization initiatives for key Arab States in transition, ideally in cooperation with the European Union. In the process we can help encourage intraregional trade and integration in a region in which both are in short supply. We can help produce private sector jobs desperately needed to keep pace with demography and expectations.  And we can help spread the benefits and opportunities of economic growth across Arab societies rather than just to a narrow circle at the top.” –Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, March 17, 2011

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

“…just as we did in Eastern Europe immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I think we have the ability to play a hugely constructive role in what happens and how events unfold in the Middle East and we can affirm the values of democracy as well as serve the larger strategic interests of our friends and allies, and of the people of these countries as well as ourselves by seizing this moment and recognizing the opportunity that it presents. And that is why I am working with Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman on legislation to support these new and fledgling democracies in that region.” –Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, March 17, 2011

“These young people appreciate our assistance with their elections, but what they want most from America is our investment, our support in creating jobs. For this reason, I strongly support the new economic assistance initiatives that the President announced today – from debt forgiveness, to the announcement of Free Enterprise Funds, to the proposed expansion of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.” – From a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace, May 19, 2011

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

“Just in the past year, in the Middle East – the region whose governments have been most resistant to freedom – we have seen the first stirrings of democratic upheavals. We do not know how the Arab Spring will ultimately turn out, but it has already proven one thing: that no faith, no ethnicity, no region, and no people are immune to the fundamental desire to control their own destiny.  As dissidents and freedom fighters battle dictators around the world, they look for support to the greatest democracy in the world. And America must answer their call.” – From a speech at the Jesse Helms Center, September 13, 2011

Representative Howard Berman (D-CA)

“Across the Middle East and North Africa, as we have all noted, we are witnessing a transformational moment. These countries will need external support as they undertake successful transitions to democratic governments.” –House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, March 1, 2011

“The recent democracy movements across North Africa and the Middle East have demonstrated not only the benefits of our security assistance, but also the importance of contingency funds for a flexible response. Countries that descend into chaos and anarchy provide breeding grounds for extremism and training grounds for terrorists. Just a small investment in supporting stable and peaceful transitions to democracy could yield far greater gains for U.S. national security than billions for developing new weapons.” –House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, March 16, 2011

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

“If we were not engaged [in Libya], there would be no motive for those people on the ground to confront radical Islam on sight… I hope that we understand that this is in our interest to stand with those that are struggling for freedom and a democratic government.” – House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, March 31, 2011

Administration / Former Administration

President George W. Bush

“It is clear that it takes time for freedom to take root.  And so while these are exciting times, these times also require a degree of patience, particularly from those of us who live in the comfortable lives of free societies.  We’ve got to understand that sometimes the seed is planted on rocky soil and it takes time.  And one of the dangers for the freedom movement around the world is that the United States grows weary and becomes isolated from the inevitable march of freedom.” –Remarks at the Bush Center on May 26th, 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“We have an opportunity right now in the Middle East and North Africa that I’m not sure we’re going to be able to meet because we don’t have the resources to invest in the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia, to help the transition in Libya, to see what happens in Syria, and so much else…And we’re going to make the best case that we can that American power is a power for the good, that it has helped to liberate hundreds of millions of people around the world, that it has helped to enhance the opportunities for people and to give young girls and boys the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.” From an interview at the National Defense University, August 16, 2011

“This budget also strengthens our allies and partners… It helps Egypt and Tunisia build stable and credible democracy, and it supports security assistance to over 130 nations.  Now, some may say, Well, what does this get us in America? Let me give you one example. Over the years, these funds have created valuable ties with foreign militaries and trained in Egypt a generation of officers who refused to fire on their own people. And that was not something that happened overnight. It was something that happened because of relationships that had been built over decades. ” – Testimony during House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, March 1, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

“…I really do view the Arab spring as a monumental moment in terms of the politics of the politics of the Middle East and the future of the Middle East. I think the reality is that the changes that are taking place, people coming together to try to seek the same kind of rights and opportunities and freedoms that others enjoy in this world and to eliminate dictatorships that have prevailed there, all of this I think is a good sign for the future….And it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to challenge the United States and other countries to try to really exercise the right kind of leadership as this takes place. I mean, it’s very important as these changes take place that we allow the people in those countries to take the lead and do this the way they feel is important to achieve, but that we provide whatever support we can — the United States, NATO, our allies, the Arab League, all working together to try to provide a support system as these changes take place.” – From an interview with Charlie Rose, September 6, 2011

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

“When the people in the Middle East or in Africa or in Latin America or in Burma, who are still waiting to hear those voice here — the voice of America — it empowers them further.  And so it tells me you really do have to take control of your circumstances, but you also need the voice  of the powerful with you.  And there’s no more powerful voice than the United States.” Remarks at the Bush Center on May 26th, 2011.

USAID Administrator Raj Shah

“But we mustn’t let that budget scenario mean we shortchange the necessity of expanding democracy, rights and governance.  Improving the quality of public institutions, enhancing government accountability, addressing corruption and giving citizens the opportunity to vote out ineffective leadership are all crucial to fighting poverty, eliminating hunger and improving health.  Without political reform, we’re not helping to develop countries; we’re delivering services, undermining our chances for long-term success.  Therefore, we must be innovative in how we allocate our funding so we can support the governance structures necessary to accelerate and sustain economic empowerment.” – From a speech at the Democracy, Rights and Governance Conference 2.0, June 20, 2011

Stay Connected

Stay up to date on the latest news, info and events.

Advisory Councils

Top national leaders
support U.S. global
leadership.

Learn More

State Network

State Network

See how U.S. global leadership creates jobs in your community.

Learn More