Why Military Leaders Oppose Foreign Aid Cuts
The link between the alleviation of global poverty and the assurance of national security is one that has been promoted by high-ranking military officials for decades. According to the United States Global Leadership Committee, 84% of military officials say that strengthening development and diplomacy efforts should be at least equal to strengthening military efforts.

This is because they recognize the connection between the grievances that spawn from those in abject poverty and the propensity toward terrorism. They can see that investing in human welfare in developing nations has the capacity to ensure freedom from violent extremist groups.

On March 13, 2013, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) released the Senate’s Budget Resolution for the fiscal year of 2014. In this resolution, a 9.6% (about $4 billion) increase in U.S. foreign assistance was proposed. In response, two senators proposed amendments that would reduce this figure significantly. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed to cut aid to Egypt as well as to suspend funding to the United Nations while any member nation legally allows forced involuntary abortions.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), however, proposed very drastic cuts to foreign assistance as a whole. His amendment to the resolution included a 33% cut- about $15 billion. When this failed in the Senate, he proposed an aid freeze at $5 billion.

Approximately a week later, Paul received a letter from USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council expressing its disapproval of the proposed amendments. In it, they implore the senator to acknowledge that cutting funding for development and diplomacy programs would do little to salvage the nation’s fiscal problems. After all, foreign assistance only comprises 1% of the federal budget.

Admiral James M. Loy and General Michael W. Hagee, the chief authors of the letter, argue that in order for the United States to be successful in their efforts abroad, they “must balance strategically all three aspects of national power and international influence- defense, diplomacy, and development.” These are the Pentagon’s official “3D’s” for protecting the United States.

The letter makes it clear that their perspectives are much more useful in discerning the importance of development and diplomacy programs. As officers in the United States military, they have had the first-hand experience in the regions that need foreign assistance the most.  They also urge the senator to look past the monetary value of these programs and instead consider the cost in human lives.

Military leaders oppose foreign aid cuts because they have seen that the Department of Defense cannot handle the world’s issues single-handedly. A multi-level approach, both militarily and non-militarily, is necessary to ensure national security. Additionally, they see military intervention as a last-resort solution to an existing problem. Diplomacy and development, however, can fix the problems before they even begin.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Source: United States Global Leadership Committee
Photo: IBT