Former Secretaries of State, Foreign Policy Leaders: America’s Global Engagement is Critical for Our Nation

June 9, 2017 By Jessica Mulligan

As the debate over funding for the International Affairs Budget continues – most recently with the release of the Administration’s FY18 budget request, which calls for a deep and disproportionate 32% cut to the State Department and USAID – there remains a growing chorus of bipartisan voices speaking out in support of strategic investments in development and diplomacy. In addition to military, business, and faith leaders from around the country, some of our nation’s most venerated foreign policy minds are making their voices heard on the critical need for a fully funded International Affairs Budget.

These leaders include members of USGLC’s Advisory Council who have advocated for U.S. global engagement throughout their careers. The input of these leaders is now more important than ever to protect funding for the State Department and USAID, advance our business and national security interests, and continue our nation’s ability to project global leadership.

Colin Powell, Secretary of State, 2001–2005, May 24, 2017:

  • “Indeed, we’re strongest when the face of America isn’t only a soldier carrying a gun but also a diplomat negotiating peace, a Peace Corps volunteer bringing clean water to a village or a relief worker stepping off a cargo plane as floodwaters rise. While I am all for reviewing, reforming and strengthening the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, proposals to zero out economic and development assistance in more than 35 countries would effectively lower our flag at our outposts around the world and make us far less safe.”
  • “America is great when we’re the country that the world admires, a beacon of hope and a principled people who are generous, fair and caring. That’s the American way. If we’re still that nation, then we must continue to devote this small but strategic 1 percent of our federal budget to this mission.”
  • “Throughout my career, I learned plenty about war on the battlefield, but I learned even more about the importance of finding peace. And that is what the State Department and USAID do: prevent the wars that we can avoid, so that we fight only the ones we must. For our service members and citizens, it’s an investment we must make.”

Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, 1997 – 2001, May 9, 2017:

  • “Our wisest leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, have always understood that American foreign policy must be shaped not solely on the basis of what we are against, but also what we are for. And our interests dictate that we should be for a world in which democracy is defended and universal values upheld.”
  • “It’s no coincidence that the hotspots most likely to harbor terrorists and generate waves of refugees are in the areas of the world that are non-democratic. Meanwhile, democratic nations are more likely to support timely international actions to fight terrorism, trafficking, and disease.”
  • “Promoting democracy is not just right – it is also necessary, smart and cost-effective. After all, foreign assistance is only about 1 percent of the total U.S. budget and democracy assistance represents just 4 percent of that.”
  • “Democracy and human rights must always be a pillar of our national security strategy and part of our bilateral agenda, even with those countries where they’re in short supply. Without this commitment, American foreign policy would lose its moral compass, its most compelling claim to global respect and ultimately the support and understanding of the American people. Make no mistake, shedding our support for democracy would put in jeopardy our long-term economic, political and security interest.”

Stephen J. Hadley, National Security Adviser, 2005 – 2009, May 9, 2017:

  • “America has always been about its principles. Its history has been the record of its struggle to realize these principles at home and to advance them abroad. Freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law are the very DNA of this nation.”
  • “America has never accepted the idea that it had to choose between its democratic principles and its interest. This is a false choice. Advancing freedom and democracy in the world also advances American interests. For a world that reflects these principles, it’s more likely to be a world in which America and Americans can thrive and prosper. And it is also more likely to be a world of peace and security.”
  • “The support of this committee will be essential to ensure that USIP and the other organizations represented before you today can continue their critical work in support of America’s national security and its men and women in uniform…We should certainly reform and make more effective the organizations and programs that promote democratic principles. But deep, arbitrary, across the board cuts in their budget was throwing the baby out with a bath water.”

Vin Weber, U.S. House of Representatives, 1981 – 1993, May 9, 2017:

  • “As we go through a period in our political life of our country, where everybody seems to be talking about disunity and partisan polarization…on these issues of support for democracy and human rights around the world, they serve as a great source of unity for our country.”
  • “Since [the National Endowment for Democracy] was founded more than three decades ago, aiding democracy has become, we believe, a bedrock principle of America’s approach to the world – supported by administrations of both political parties and consistently by the Congress and members of Congress of both political parties, because it advances America’s most important interests and also affirms our highest ideals.”
  • “Our interests and our values are mutually reinforcing as is maintaining both our military strength and our moral vision.”

Jim Kolbe, U.S. House of Representatives, 1985 – 2006, May 9, 2017:

  • “While disaster relief is a crucial aspect of our international aid, we must also invest in programs that enable other governments to solve and prevent on their own. Crisis like famine, natural disasters or acts of aggression. A governance-focused strategy…is the embodiment of the adage, that if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, he will never go hungry.”
  • “History shows us a clear length between democratic government and stability. Democracies are more adaptable to change, more stable, and tend to be more prosperous. As President Reagan recognized during the Cold War, our ability to support the spread of truly citizens-centered government is one of the most powerful tools we possess to achieve American interest.”
  • “Investing in democratic governance isn’t about patting ourselves on the back or feeling good, it’s a matter of delivering results to best serve U.S. interests and maximize the return on taxpayer investment.”