07.17.12

The Role Of Smart Power Investments In Advancing U.S. Security, Prosperity, And Humanitarian Values

Remarks Before The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

Thank you, Carolyn, for your kind words. I have long admired the work of Save the Children and you, too, should be recognized for your work.   

Thank you Liz, Clyde, members of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Board, Secretary Albright and Secretary Powell, for being here tonight and for this honor.   

I am delighted to share it with my good friend, Lindsey Graham.  Senator Graham has been a great partner on the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, as was Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Judd Gregg before him. 

We have a long tradition of bipartisanship on our subcommittee and it has served us well – a fact that is rarely mentioned in the daily press articles about how Washington is broken.

The mission of this Coalition – to protect national security, build economic prosperity, and strengthen humanitarian values – is one we share.  In the Senate, both parties have worked together to project American diplomatic and development leadership in a time of severe budget pressures. 

All of us here understand that we cannot divorce ourselves from a world that is increasingly competitive and, I would say, increasingly dangerous. 

Not just because of religious and ethnic intolerance, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but other threats like climate change, unsustainable population growth, poverty and conflict that threatens to engulf parts of the Middle East and Africa.  

Yet as hard as we are trying, the United States is not responding as effectively as we should to these global threats.  

In the next 3 to 5 decades, the world’s population will grow by another 2 billion people and wars may be fought not only over oil, but over food and water.  Instead of doing everything we can to prevent that, we waste time arguing about whether to even fund family planning and  the United Nations.    

So far, the State and Foreign Operations budget has avoided large cuts, but that is because of the disproportionate amounts going to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. 

Senator Graham and I have managed to protect other key programs by redirecting some of the funds requested for these countries, but that will not be possible forever. 

And, I know this may come as a shock, but the House of Representatives does not always agree with us.  

At the same time that we are fighting for the necessary funds for diplomacy and development, we have to recognize that too often the money does not achieve the results we want.

There are many reasons for this.  One is that we often do not hold foreign governments accountable when they fail to perform. 

Another is that we have such bureaucratic ways of doing things that those we rely on to implement programs spend too much time reporting on what they are doing, rather than doing it.

And we rely disproportionately on the same big organizations and contractors, which is not always consistent with the goal of empowering local people in these countries.

So a key focus of protecting this budget has got to be ensuring that the money we appropriate is spent effectively and sustainably.

The work by this Coalition to highlight the importance of diplomacy and development as pillars of U.S. national security has not gone unnoticed. 

When top Pentagon officials praise the work of USAID’s programs in Africa, we know you had a lot to do with it.  When CEOs come to Congress or write letters in support of our budget allocation, we see your hand in it.

None of this is easy.  How do you tell a farmer in Vermont why it matters to the United States what happens in Yemen or South Sudan? 

How do you convince an auto worker in South Carolina that investing in education or infrastructure in Egypt or Haiti is good for the United States?  

How do you explain to voters why we should use their tax dollars so Lebanese and Pakistani students can study at American universities?

We are here tonight because we want the United States to be strong and respected around the world. 

We have troops fighting in Afghanistan but we know that they alone cannot defeat terrorism.  

Our economy increasingly depends on foreign markets, but people in developing countries need to be able to buy what we sell. 

We are defending freedom of speech, religion, due process, and women’s rights, which are under assault in ways few of us would have thought possible in the 21st Century.

And we are facing challenges to our influence not seen since the Cold War, but of a different sort, as Chinese investments in natural resources and infrastructure flood into Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Both Secretary Albright and Secretary Powell have been outstanding defenders of the Foreign Service, and of the funding for foreign assistance. They have brought credibility to this that is critically important.

So has the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and I thank you again for your support and for this award.