The FY13 Budget Process Begins

February 13, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

Today the President will release his FY13 budget request, marking the beginning of the FY13 budget process.  Be sure to visit USGLC’s Budget Center this afternoon for our press statement and full analysis of the International Affairs Budget request.  Several Administration officials will be testifying on the budget request on Capitol Hill this week, including Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of OMB; Secretary of the Treasury Geithner; Secretary of Defense Panetta; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey.

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Santorum’s defense of foreign aid makes him top GOP candidate (Grace Zimmerly,

Romney, Gingrich and Paul would like their voters to embrace the notions of former Senate Minority Leader Robert A. Taft, R-Ohio, who in 1945 declared that foreign aid is like “pouring money down a rathole.” This view is outdated and irrelevant in light of today’s increasingly global economy and the many benefits the United States receives on an investment of less than 1 percent of its GDP.  One of the lasting positive legacies of our most recent Republican president was George W. Bush’s massive increase in foreign aid. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was supporting treatment for more than 2.1 million HIV/AIDS infected individuals around the world after only five years, an incredible demonstration of our country’s continued relevancy and leadership among both industrialized and developing countries.  As we look toward the primary, we must support the candidate who will continue to champion America’s image while boosting our local economy. In the Republican primary, that candidate is former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

Smart Power

Lessons Unlearned: Why Another Gigantic Famine Looms in Africa (Kristin Palitza and Gaet Teidouma, Time)

Not even a month after the U.N. announced Somalia’s famine was over — notwithstanding the deaths of between 100,000 and 150,000 people in the past year — another hunger crisis of equal size is looming on the continent. Last year, around 13 million people in the Horn of Africa needed food aid. Now aid agencies warn failed harvests in the Sahel, the band of desert and scrub that runs south of the Sahara, mean 12 million more people require assistance.  But droughts don’t inevitably mean famine. While they may set the conditions for starvation, only human beings ensure it. The world has more than enough food to feed itself. Redistributing it to those who lack their share is the job of large and well-funded international aid agencies, particularly the World Food Program. In January, Oxfam and Save the Children admitted in a report on last year’s famine in Somalia that 100,000 people died unnecessarily due to the slowness of the relief effort. Can a repeat be avoided in the Sahel?

Politics/Foreign Policy

Why the World Needs America (Robert Kagan, Wall Street Journal)

International order is not an evolution; it is an imposition. It is the domination of one vision over others—in America’s case, the domination of free-market and democratic principles, together with an international system that supports them. The present order will last only as long as those who favor it and benefit from it retain the will and capacity to defend it. If and when American power declines, the institutions and norms that American power has supported will decline, too. Or more likely, if history is a guide, they may collapse altogether as we make a transition to another kind of world order, or to disorder. We may discover then that the U.S. was essential to keeping the present world order together and that the alternative to American power was not peace and harmony but chaos and catastrophe—which is what the world looked like right before the American order came into being.

Egypt’s Unwise Course (New York Times)

The army is under fire at home for holding back the democratic tide, abusing civilians even more than Mr. Mubarak and failing to govern effectively, so it is using America as a scapegoat. The confrontation is poisoning relations with a key ally at a time when Egypt needs all the friends it can get. It is diverting attention from solving the country’s profoundly serious problems: continued political turmoil and looming economic meltdown.  On Dec. 29, security forces raided as many as nine nongovernmental groups in Cairo, including three American-financed democracy-building groups — the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House. Employees were hauled in for questioning in a bogus criminal investigation.  Alienating powerful countries like the United States, creating an environment in which groups that help build durable democratic institutions cannot operate and intimidating Egyptian civil society are a recipe for disaster.

Arab League Steps Up Pressure on Syria and Calls for U.N. Help (Liam Stack and Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times)

The Arab League asked the United Nations Security Council on Sunday to send a peacekeeping mission to Syria, and it called on Arab nations to sever diplomatic relations with Damascus in an effort to pressure the government to end the violence there.  The ministers adopted a resolution asking the Security Council to authorize a joint Arab-United Nations force to “supervise the execution of a cease-fire,” and it urged the league’s members to “halt all forms of diplomatic cooperation” with the Syrian government.   The resolution said that the league supported “opening channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and providing all forms of political and financial support to it,” although it did not specify what that support would be.

Turkish Diplomat: Iran is ready to cut a deal (Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)

Turkey’s top diplomat said Friday that Iran is ready to negotiate an end to the standoff with Western powers over its nuclear program, suggesting that the controversy could be resolved quickly if the deep distrust between the two sides could be overcome.  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also criticized economic sanctions against Iran as ineffective and warned that any military strike against the country’s nuclear facilities would inflame the region while doing little to curb Iran’s ambitions. Israeli and U.S. officials have not ruled out military options to impede Iran’s progress.  “I am telling you, a military strike is a disaster,” Davutoglu told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “It should not be an option.”