September 13, 2023
Washington, DC – Today, as Congress is considering Fiscal Year 2024 spending bills, 110 former three- and four-star Generals and Admirals who served in the Pacific theater sent a letter to leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives urging them to “to support robust funding for development and diplomatic tools”– including the State Department, USAID, International Development Finance Cooperation – as a core pillar of America’s China strategy.
“We have seen on the frontlines how U.S. civilian diplomacy and development tools are central to a comprehensive American strategy to compete with China and protect U.S. national security interests,” wrote the signers, including former Commanders of U.S. Pacific Command, Admirals Thomas Fargo, William Fallon, and Samuel Locklear, alongside General Anthony Zinni and Admiral James Stavridis. “Shortchanging our nation’s diplomacy and development tools would be a self-inflicted wound for protecting U.S. national security interests.”
In addition to the letter to Congressional leaders, USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council Co-Chairs General Anthony Zinni and Admiral James Stavridis released the following statement on the emergency supplemental currently before Congress:
“Doubling down on American and allied support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion remains indispensable for U.S. national security. As Ukraine’s coffers start to run dry, additional U.S. security, economic, and humanitarian support – alongside that of our allies – is essential to putting Ukraine in the strongest position possible to continue to defend their territory and for any diplomatic negotiations that emerge. We urge Congress and the Administration to work together on a bipartisan basis to continue to demonstrate American resolve in support of Ukraine and to strengthen U.S. leadership in the face of China’s and Russia’s advances around the world.”
The letter on Fiscal Year 2024 is available online here and is included below:
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Dear Speaker McCarthy, Minority Leader Jeffries, Majority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McConnell:
We write to thank you for your leadership and actions to protect our country’s national security and economic interests.
As leaders who served at the highest levels of the military across the globe and operated in the Indo-Pacific during the course of our careers, we have seen on the frontlines how U.S. civilian diplomacy and development tools are central to a comprehensive American strategy to compete with China and protect U.S. national security interests.
As a nation, we are approaching a critical juncture in our strategic competition with the PRC – one we have seen play out first-hand not only in the Indo-Pacific, but across the globe. China continues to expand its global footprint, using a combination of soft and hard power tools to advance its national interests. The PRC is doing so in an aggressive manner that is not only threatening to our allies and partners, but detrimental to our strategic interests.
In March, the PRC’s Foreign Minister stated that his country has “pressed the acceleration button” on their own diplomatic engagement strategy around the world. Simultaneously, it’s no coincidence that Beijing has sharply increased its diplomacy and development budget as it seeks to broaden its influence. According to the Lowy Institute, the PRC already overtook America’s global diplomatic footprint back in 2020 with more embassies and consulates around the world – a concerning development that, if left unchecked, puts America on the back foot as we compete for influence globally.
While serving in uniform, we were proud to work hand in glove with our nation’s diplomacy and development agencies around the world. Whether in Africa, Latin America, or beyond, the State Department, USAID, the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, and other development agencies are the tip of the spear when it comes to reducing conflict, fighting hunger, eradicating disease, and advancing U.S. security and economic interests. These platforms are critical for providing a credible American alternative to the PRC’s development deals and are essential to protecting the nation we swore to defend.
Shortchanging our nation’s diplomacy and development tools would be a self-inflicted wound for protecting U.S. national security interests, and we urge you to support robust funding for development and diplomatic tools in the Fiscal Year 2024 International Affairs Budget. These investments are critical for America’s national security and economic well-being.
Thank you for your consideration and leadership at this critical time for our nation.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.