Military Leaders Voice Support for the International Affairs Budget

November 18, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

This morning General James Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), recently retired Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has an opinion editorial in the Charleston Post & Courier saying the International Affairs Budget is a “strategic investment that ensures America is a leader in the world while keeping us safe and creating jobs.”  He is speaking at the Citadel Sunday as part of a USGLC event with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Also yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, USA, sent a letter to appropriations leaders on the Hill urging them to support the International Affairs Budget.

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America must continue to invest in international progress (General James Cartwright, Charleston Post & Courier)

Our military alone cannot keep us safe, which is why we need our civilian development and diplomatic operations at their best. Right now we are all watching as our government faces tough choices about how to get our fiscal house back in order. One place where we cannot afford to cut corners, though, is our security. That is why in addition to ensuring our military is strong, we must provide adequate resources for our International Affairs Budget.

Huckabee, Coleman: Foreign Aid Helps US Security and Prosperity (Newsmax)

Some Republican presidential candidates have expressed disdain for foreign aid. But slashing or eliminating foreign aid, as some conservatives have suggested, isn’t a wise strategy, say former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Minnesota Sen. Norman Coleman.  “This ‘soft power’ is sometimes dismissed as expensive and expendable. It’s neither,” the Republican duo writes on Politico. “Foreign aid is less than 1 percent of the federal budget. When it’s spent in a strategic and targeted manner, with transparent accountability, foreign aid makes a substantial contribution to U.S. security and prosperity.”

Smart Power

Senate Republicans Object to Deep Cuts for Foreign Aid Accounts (Emily Cadei, CQ)

State Department and foreign aid funding has been a favorite target of House Republican appropriators this year and a popular punching bag for GOP presidential candidates. But the proposed spending cuts face growing resistance from Republicans on the other side of the Capitol.  Senate Republicans would like to take a knife to some State and foreign assistance accounts, as was evident from the list of amendments they prepared to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill (S 1601) that was to be part of the now-defunct second “minibus” spending package. But many GOP senators are publicly objecting to the across-the-board cuts promoted by Republicans in the House and on the campaign trail.

Conservative Foreign Aid: There is such a thing, but the GOP presidential candidates haven’t defined it (Elliott Abrams, National Review)

There is no softer target in GOP primaries than the United Nations and foreign-aid spending. Nonetheless, it is worth asking whether a blanket “Cut this now!” approach really makes sense, even in a year when cutting federal spending is a necessity. Let’s consider what the Republican presidential candidates are saying, and ask what “foreign aid” is anyway. Perhaps surprisingly, there are stark differences between the candidates on foreign aid.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Clinton to Visit Myanmar as Activist Enters Politics Again (Jackie Calmes and Thomas Fuller, New York Times)

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most prominent democracy campaigner, announced on Friday that she would rejoin the political system of the military-backed government that persecuted her for more than two decades.  Her announcement came shortly after President Obama disclosed that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a visit there next month, the first by a secretary of state in more than 50 years.  The twin events underscored the remarkable and sudden pace of change in Myanmar, which has stunned observers inside and outside the country, analysts said.

GOP meets on supercommittee (Jake Sherman and Manu Raju, Politico)

Word began coming out Thursday evening that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction could not bridge the expectedly wide partisan gap on taxes and entitlements, making the process a likely failure.  Now the question is how do they wrap the process up. Aides are mulling a strategy that allows two committee votes: one on a Democratic proposal and the other on the GOP proposal. But it’s possible the committee won’t meet again if no bipartisan deal is reached.

House prepares to vote on balanced budget proposal (Jim Abrams, Associated Press)

The House votes Friday on whether to adopt a constitutional balanced budget amendment as a means of forcing Congress to come to grips with its inability to deal with spiraling deficits.  The vote takes place as the bipartisan supercommittee tasked with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade appears locked in partisan gridlock. The amendment, dictating that Congress not spend any more than it takes in in any given year, also comes up after a budget year in which government spending topped revenues by $1.3 trillion.