GOP Senator: U.S. Foreign Assistance Vital to National Security

January 27, 2017 By Megan Rabbitt

Days after Donald Trump was sworn in as our nation’s 45th President, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke with John Dickerson on CBS’ Face the Nation about why combating terrorism necessitates a strong investment in our civilian-led tools of foreign policy. The Senator maintained that in order to keep America safe, strong, and secure the U.S. needs to leverage the powers of foreign assistance, development, and diplomacy alongside the strength of our military.

Speaking to the President directly, Senator Graham stressed that bombs alone won’t be enough to rid the world of violent extremism, explaining that “building a small schoolhouse for a young girl in Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq will do more damage to radical Islam than any bomb you could drop.”

When asked about the funding of our foreign assistance, development and diplomatic efforts under the new Administration, Senator Graham responded: “talk to General Mattis.” A retired four-star General, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has long championed robust investments in U.S. civilian-led tools of foreign policy as a means to bolster national security. In 2013, Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

Senator Graham offered reassurance that Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, shares Secretary Mattis’ understanding that an investment in diplomacy and development is an investment in our national security. Recounting a private conversation from before the Senate confirmation hearing, Graham says Tillerson told him that “when America doesn’t lead, other people will. And the vacuum is always filled by bad actors. We have to have a foreign policy that engages the world. We need to lead from the front.”

Senator Graham certainly agrees, telling Face the Nation viewers that “if we don’t help others over there, we’re always going to be endangered here.”

Photo: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to attendees of the USGLC State Leaders Summit, June 14, 2016.