Happy Foreign Affairs Day!

May 7, 2010 By Jordan Smith

 width=It’s Foreign Affairs Day, and another opportunity to discuss why the International Affairs Budget is so crucial for our national security, economic prosperity and humanitarian values as a nation.  During an event at the State Department, Secretary Clinton said that “we are elevating development and diplomacy as core elements of our foreign policy, alongside defense.” But this push to step up development and diplomacy have not come from the State Department and USAID alone, which historically have been the institutions pushing for more resources for these areas. “We are doing so with strong support from Secretary Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, who have really become believers in the necessity for us to be activists in diplomacy and development to try to prevent conflict, to try to ameliorate and resolve conflict, to try to go into post-conflict situations to begin to help rebuild.”

The Secretary was unusually candid about the limited resources in which our civilian-led tools of development and diplomacy have to operate. “We are working hand-in-hand in very difficult settings without the kind of massive support that the military is able to provide for its troops.” Indeed, the International Affairs Budget is but a fraction of America’s overall budget. The Secretary continued: “We know in these tight budget times that our resources are limited and we have to make hard choices about where our support will have the biggest impact. That means we have decided to focus on two key areas: global health and food security.” The Global Health and Feed the Future initiatives are “intended to make long-term, large-scale investments in a smaller number of partner countries rather than peppering support across different issues and regions.” Using USAID and the State Department’s resources wisely is key to gaining support for development and diplomacy among the American people, and as USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said this week, “We need to have much more budget accountability and we need to be able to perform to live up to those higher standards.”