Foreign Aid Cuts Jeopardize U.S. National Security

February 18, 2011 9:32 am 2 comments

Secretary of Defense the Honorable Robert Gates, left, and Secretary of the Navy.

America’s national deficit will burden future generations and hurt the long term well-being of our nation. That is why, as the stewards of our constituents’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars, Congress must always ensure that every cent we spend is absolutely essential. But we can never forget that in meeting Congress’ first priority – keeping America safe – there is no better value than the one percent of the U.S. budget that is spent on foreign aid and diplomacy.

Some of my Republican colleagues have suggested that America would be better off if we drastically cut our foreign aid and State Department funding. This type of thinking is based on the faulty assumption that this level of funding is disproportionately high compared to other spending priorities. With only one percent of the U.S. federal budget allocated for these programs, nothing could be further from the truth.

U.S. spending on foreign aid and diplomacy under President Ronald Reagan was never less than 1.1 percent of the federal budget. Today, in our more interconnected, just as complex, and equally hostile world, our country would be less secure if we removed our diplomatic presence from the globe. It would be a detriment to our national security if the United States didn’t have Americans who know foreign languages, live in countries throughout the world, and understand the cultures, ways of thinking, and history of those nations.

Without knowledgeable American personnel on the ground, how would we be able to make fully-informed decisions on which diplomatic and military alliances to strengthen and which to weaken or break? Without the information we gather from our international efforts, how would we know which countries could be brought over to democracy, become better trading partners with America, or be more cooperative with the West?

Military professionals, from the Secretary of Defense to the American forces on the ground, agree about the importance of foreign aid and State Department programs. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last September, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” Regarding the perspective of the professional officers who direct our soldiers on the battlefield, a poll commissioned in 2010 by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition concluded, “nearly 90 percent of active duty and retired military officers agree the tools of diplomacy and development are critical to achieving U.S. national security objectives and a strong military alone is not enough to protect America.” And put succinctly by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in a letter to Congress last year about these programs, “The more significant the cuts, the longer military operations will take, and the more and more lives are at risk.”

With U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq; Iran racing toward nuclear weapons; the volatile situations in Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, and Tunisia; and terror threats emerging from Somalia, Yemen, and virtually every corner of the world; now is not the time to have less knowledge of foreign languages, fewer embassies, or fewer diplomats working to avert war and nuclear proliferation. The interests of the United States would certainly not be well served if we were to deny military aid to indispensible allies that help us fight terrorism, protect essential sea lanes, provide safe ports for our troops, and deliver world-class intelligence in real time.

Indeed, for these reasons, and many more, our foreign aid and diplomatic budget has a return on investment that is at least a thousand fold. Cutting foreign aid will not right our struggling economy, but will ultimately cost us more in U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars. It will surely cause direct and substantial harm to America’s national security.

That is why, while we need to cut spending, while we need to get rid of waste, while we need to find additional sources of revenue, a dramatic reduction in the one percent of the U.S. budget devoted to foreign aid and diplomacy is not wise. There are other cuts in spending that would reduce our deficit without harming our national security.

For example, we could begin with cutting the approximately $4 billion a year given to the oil and gas industries to encourage them to look for energy. Oil companies do not need taxpayer encouragement for that purpose, especially as they continue to post record-breaking profits. Congress also can cut bloated agriculture subsidies, particularly for food-based biofuels, and roll back non-stimulative tax breaks for individuals with incomes of more than one million dollars per year. These policies amount to billions of wasted taxpayer dollars each year.

I look forward to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to address our unacceptable federal deficit, but we must make cuts where they make sense, not where they jeopardize the national security of the United States.

Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ) is in his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense; and State and Foreign Operations, which appropriate all spending for the United States military and foreign aid respectively.

2 Comments

  • Gabriel Martindale

    Literally billions of dollars have been poured into building up the Egyptian military so it can be appropriated by Muslim Brotherhood. And this is hardly the first time and not likely to be the last. The Americans are too weak, cowardly, or hamstrung by their Jeffersonian notions of self-determination to prop up their client regimes when push comes to shove and, given that, as time goes by, push usually eventually does come to shove, the money they spend wooing them is basically money down the drain. Worse than that, it is money given to future enemies.
    Frankly, if you embezzled the money and spent it on rolexs it would be better spent.

  • Great piece…

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    JNS.org – A Jewish upbringing taught Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 32 years, the value of giving back. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Shaffer served as musical director for “The Concert for New York City,” and in 2012 he accompanied Adam Sandler in “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” a fundraiser for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. He was also the national spokesperson for Epilepsy Canada. “My mother taught by example,” Shaffer said in an [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Coach David Blatt’s NBA Hiring Hailed as ‘Incredible’ for Jewish Community

    Coach David Blatt’s NBA Hiring Hailed as ‘Incredible’ for Jewish Community

    JNS.org – The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers looked near and far during a five-week stretch for a head coach, and they finally found their man—in Israel. David Blatt, who coached Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague and Israeli league basketball championships this year, struck a deal to become the 20th coach in the history of the Cavaliers. The selection was immediately celebrated by basketball players Tamir Goodman and Mark Sack, both from the Cleveland area, and one of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.