Add to this the support of the private sector and it isn’t hard to see that global engagement is gaining such strong backing because it’s about keeping America safe and promoting our economy, while helping countries in need. Business leaders are clear—investing in the developing world isn’t about Corporate Social Responsibility, it’s about promoting U.S. economic interests in new and expanding markets and helping build new partners. In a recent letter to Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, “Diplomacy and development programs are essential to creating jobs and spurring economic growth in the United States. The International Affairs Budget supports and protects U.S. diplomats, who are on the front lines of American commercial diplomacy and export promotion efforts. Additionally, U.S. foreign assistance programs provide technical advice and build stronger political, legal, and economic policy regimes in developing countries that help these nations to become reliable trading partners.”
Too often, global engagement — and development in particular — can be painted as a luxury we can’t afford in these times of budget deficits. But in reality, this one percent of the federal budget actually serves much broader objectives than development alone. Certainly the core of many programs is humanitarian, such as helping mothers better provide for their children in the developing world, but when evaluating the full impact of the International Affairs Budget, the voices of the military and private sector remind us of the role these programs play in creating U.S. jobs and keeping us safe. Hopefully, Congress will take in the full picture when making important decisions about the FY13 federal budget, and acknowledge that for a relatively modest investment, the International Affairs Budget pays big dividends for our future safety and prosperity.