Ripped from the Headlines

April 15, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, news broke in the U.S. about a tragic bombing in Indonesia, with the New York Times reporting that a suicide bomber blew himself up during prayers in a mosque located inside a police station. At least 28 people were wounded, and antiterrorism officials said this could indicate a new trend of attacks on police and other government officials.

Also today, we learned that the compromise budget agreement which prevented the government shutdown could have direct consequences for International Affairs Budget programs in Indonesia. The agreement funding the government through the end of the current fiscal year, which will be signed into law today, cuts Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding $380 million, which will force the agency to make difficult choices. The Center for Global Development reports that “likely to be hit hardest: compacts being developed in Indonesia and Cape Verde.”

The compromise budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 avoided some very dangerous cuts to the International Affairs Budget, but programs critical to our national security will still see reductions of 11 percent.

When it comes to national security implications of cuts to the International Affairs Budget, no one has more credibility than our top military officers, who have served in the field and seen firsthand the kind of threats we face in today’s complex and dangerous world. The events in Indonesia serve as a tragic reminder that societies most in need of International Affairs programs to promote stability and prevent conflict may lose out on these programs due to the very important fiscal crisis that must be addressed here at home.

In an open letter to Congress last month, 70 retired Generals and Admirals wrote that “development and diplomacy keep us safer by addressing threats in the most dangerous corners of the world and by preventing conflicts before they occur.” Budgeting decisions for Fiscal Year 2011 may be over, but the battle for Fiscal Year 2012 has only just begun, and strong military voices like these can help ensure we see a strong and effective International Affairs Budget is in place to promote stability around the world and our national security here at home.