March 26, 2015
Balancing Military Power with Civilian Tools Will Help Keep America Safe
Washington, D.C. –Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, today asked members of Congress to scale up funding for civilian tools of influence overseas, including diplomacy and global development, and ensure that the international affairs budget for these efforts is strong enough to continue shoring up U.S. national security and supporting the fight against terrorism.
“The United States faces unprecedented security challenges today, and responding to them requires a smart power approach using all the tools in our national security toolkit,” Admiral Stavridis said. “The funds we allocate to foreign aid, diplomatic security, humanitarian relief, education, and the many other international programs can save us from spending far more to put boots on the ground in troubled regions. It’s exceptionally cost-effective.”
In his testimony and in a letter to the Senate today, Admiral Stavridis said cuts should not be made to such programs when they are cost-effective, high-impact and vital in keeping America safe.
“My message to you today is direct,” Admiral Stavridis told the Senate State, Foreign Operations subcommittee. “Please oppose any amendments that cut the International Affairs Budget during this week’s consideration of the FY2016 budget resolution. Now is the time to focus on smart power … elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense.”
Stavridis testified alongside philanthropist Bill Gates, who highlighted the achievements of U.S. humanitarian efforts to fight disease and promote democratic values, and actor Ben Affleck, who founded and heads eastern Congo initiative, recounted a recent trip to crisis-ridden Congo and appealed to Congress for action in Africa.
Today’s hearing takes place as Congress votes on budget resolutions for the next fiscal year. The Senate today is considering a resolution that largely maintains current funding for international affairs, while yesterday’s House-passed version recommends making deep cuts.
Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) focused the hearing on a wide array of foreign policy challenges, among them the Syria crisis, ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. He noted that America’s development and diplomacy efforts abroad directly improve U.S. national security and economic interests.
The co-chair of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s National Security Advisory Council, Stavridis noted, “I am part of a group of over 160 retired three- and four- star generals and flag officers who have planned for war, fought wars, and sought a path to peace. We know from hard experience, from command responsibility, that war alone, the military instrument alone, does not bring security. We need robust funding for what I consider the new strategic triad of United States national security: defense, diplomacy and development.”
“We risk our capacity to respond to global threats if we cut back on foreign assistance programs now,” said Liz Schrayer, USGLC’s President & CEO. “Our international affairs programs enable us to respond to life-threatening humanitarian crises, tackle the root causes of conflict and extremism, and build new markets for U.S. businesses. It’s clearly in our interest to invest in these tools, and Admiral Stavridis, Bill Gates, and Ben Affleck were right. Investing now pales in comparison to addressing these challenges later.”