A Cost-Effective Investment

March 2, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, making a strong case for why the International Affairs Budget is a cost-effective investment. She said “shifting responsibilities from soldiers to civilians actually saves taxpayers a great deal of money. For example, the military’s total OCO request worldwide will drop by $45 billion from 2010 as our troops come home. Our costs, the State Department and USAID, will increase by less than 4 billion. Every business owner I know would gladly invest $4 to save $45.” Today, Clinton will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:30 AM, with a webcast available here. Also yesterday, the USGLC brought half a dozen retired Generals and Admirals to Capitol Hill, meeting with Senators, Congressmen and their staffs to make the military case for a strong and effective International Affairs Budget. We will keep the pressure on as both the Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012 budget processes continue.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Clinton Says Security, Competitiveness Tied to State Budget (Nicole Gaouette, Bloomberg)

The House committee’s Republican Chairwoman, Ileana Ros- Lehtinen of Florida quoted one of her constituents in asking about the work of foreign aid. “What is the return on our investment?” Clinton listed the increased death and disease likely if global health programs, the largest area of State Department spending, were cut. An AIDS program founded by former President George W. Bush would have to turn away 400,000 people and 16 million people would be denied treatment for the debilitating disease, she said. “These programs stabilize entire societies that have been devastated by HIV, malaria and other diseases,” Clinton said.

Smart Power

Africa: Providing Greater Returns for Western Investment (Jackson Mvungany, Voice of America)

IMF projects a 6% GDP growth rate — a good sign for foreign businessmen. For years, foreign businessmen shunned Africa. They saw the continent as a highly risky destination for investment. But in the past decade, much of that has changed, with many saying Africa now presents a great potential for business growth and ultimately poverty reduction.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Clinton: Libya no-fly zone under active consideration (Josh Rogin, The Cable blog)

Those cuts “would be devastating for our national security,” Clinton said. “It would force us to dramatically scale back our missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq that are vital for national security.” “Aid to others isn’t a gift. The United States supports other countries because it’s in our interests,” Berman said. “We are the most generous nation in the world, and foreign aid should go to those countries that are friendly to us,” Ros-Lehtinen said. Clinton responded that the United States needed to compete with other powers for influence in countries that may not currently support U.S. foreign policy, and said the president’s fiscal 2012 budget for international affairs responded to the need for fiscal prudence. “We scrubbed this budget and made painful but responsible cuts,” she said. “These missions are vital to national security and I believe with all my heart that this would be the wrong time to pull back.”

Bangladesh Forces Microcredit Pioneer Out of Bank (Lydia Plogreen and Vikas Bajaj, New York Times)

Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who pioneered microcredit as a way to fight poverty, has been forced out of the bank he founded, the government-appointed chairman of the bank said on Wednesday.

Crisis building on Libyan border (Anthony Faiola, Washington Post)

The violence in Libya was threatening to turn into a humanitarian crisis Tuesday as thousands of people fleeing into Tunisia overwhelmed relief efforts, creating a bottleneck of evacuees stranded on the Libyan side of the border.