Washington, DC – This afternoon, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) delivered the following statement at a hearing on national security and the foreign policy priorities in President Obama’s 2013 international affairs budget.
“Our international affairs budget is a smart investment that yields outsized returns and saves us money over the long haul,” said Chairman Kerry. “There’s nothing conservative about starving our foreign policy budget of a billion dollars today only to spend a trillion dollars later when an otherwise avoidable crisis strikes or an armed conflict looms.”
The full text of Chairman Kerry’s hearing statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Thank you all for coming.
Madame Secretary, welcome back to the Committee. As always, it’s a pleasure to have you here, and it’s enormously helpful for us to hear your thoughts, especially at a time when we’re facing so many challenges—and presented with so many opportunities.
I think all of us on this committee are committed to strong and forward-looking American leadership in the world. The demand for U.S. leadership has never been higher—whether because of issues raised by the Arab Spring, by climate change, or by nuclear proliferation, particularly in Iran. Yet budget realities have placed a premium on projecting U.S. power not only effectively but efficiently. We need a smart, coordinated, and strong budget to safeguard the American people and fund the Administration’s pursuit of the opportunities and challenges we face in this coming year.
While cutting foreign aid is a guaranteed applause line on the political stump, and it's good foreign policy to correct an unsustainable fiscal course-- our strength at home determines our strength in the world --it is vital to deal with our fiscal challenge honestly -- and intelligently.
Our international affairs budget is a smart investment that yields outsized returns and saves us money over the long haul. There’s nothing conservative about starving our foreign policy budget of a billion dollars today only to spend a trillion dollars later when an otherwise avoidable crisis strikes or an armed conflict looms.
This year’s budget request reflects difficult decisions and clear trade-offs. I commend the Administration for identifying programs where we can save money, for deepening reforms at State and USAID, and for leveraging U.S. funds in multilateral forums.
We all know how crucial our military is to our national defense—and we must never hesitate to use force when necessary—but smart and able diplomacy and development policy can neutralize threats before they become crises; manage crises if threats escalate; and assure security and stability after conflicts are resolved—all at a fraction of the cost of military deployment.
Diplomats and development experts support counter-terrorism efforts in countries like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Programs to destroy small arms and shoulder-fired missiles deprive our enemies of the tools to attack us. Teaching foreign military officers American values and skills creates capacity so that we can fight together, and share burdens. Training foreign law enforcement and counter-terrorist officials in American investigative techniques increases their capability—and our security. And implementing stricter export controls, training international weapons inspectors, and securing our borders allows us to guard against that most pernicious of threats: the threat of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.
The stakes are enormous: in the coming years, we will have great opportunities to build and redefine our relationships around the world, particularly in the Middle East. The region is moving in many different directions but one thing is clear – it is transforming before our eyes.
As you know, I recently spent a number of days in the region Madame Secretary, and I can attest to both the opportunities that exist to help the people of the Middle East seek their legitimate political and economic aspirations – and to the fragility of this moment.
So I fully share your perspective and the goals of the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to make sure that we have the tools and the flexibility needed to act proactively and to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you to make sure you have the tools you need and about the best way to use the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to support lasting change in the Middle East.
We know the difference we can make. Our efforts vaccinate children, combat climate change and engage at-risk youth promote core U.S. national security interests. Our global presence does something else: it creates jobs. Through OPIC loans and multilateral forums, we both lift the economies of low-income countries and open markets for American businesses and recognize the connections between promoting our businesses and creating jobs.
Energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries. It’s who we are. It’s in America’s DNA – from the Marshall Plan to our response to the earthquakes in Haiti and floods in Pakistan. It strengthens our security and it makes us stronger – at home and in the world.
One last note: as we carefully watch our expenditures, we also need to scrutinize the cuts that have been proposed. I look forward to your comments this afternoon and to talking throughout the year about the State Department’s priorities.