Fragmented look at State Department spending
This story provides a glimpse at a huge problem
Hillary Clinton is crying about having to absorb an 8% spending cut. Give us a break.
America must define its capacity to govern as a percentage of GDP and with respect for current and legacy obligations. Our Foreign Policy has long outstripped our capacity. State Department defined Foreign Policy casts a multiplier of expense through the Department of Defense.
A thorough accounting of our Foreign Policy is needed so that US citizens understand completely what we are trying to accomplish – what are the outcomes and associated metrics – what is the return on cost?
America cannot afford the tear-down-and-rebuild policy in the Middle East. We must get out of Afghanistan, and out of Iraq. Any further missions in the Middle East for the purpose of securing our pipeline to oil must be in concert with allies in a more balanced proportion. Explain this, State Department.
“State Department fiscal 2012 spending bill warrants a closer look
By Walter Pincus, Published: October 3
Severe congressional cuts in the $59 billion fiscal 2012 State Department and foreign assistance spending request should force the Obama administration to take a tougher look at what those programs accomplish.
For example, some $1.6 billion is to pay for worldwide security, including Diplomatic Security agents, armored vehicles, training and guards for diplomats, employees and private contractors.
“In the current budget environment, such high security costs are not sustainable,” the Senate Appropriations Committee said in its report on the fiscal 2012 State Department and foreign operations bill released Friday.
Questioning whether assistance programs in rural Afghan areas can succeed when they require “the presence of heavily armed security contractors,” the panel’s report urged State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to reduce such programs “to only what can be effectively managed, monitored, and sustained.”
Any deep review should also consider the value of programs to the United States. For example, more than $7 billion will go to global health programs carried on in more than 70 countries, the bulk of them in Africa and East and Central Asia — where the United States is known for fighting Islamic terrorists rather than fighting AIDS — which gets most of the health program money.
But I want to focus on U.S. security and military assistance funds, which are carried in this bill. They represent real cooperation between State and its giant partner, the Defense Department, and may reach $8 billion next year. One of the smaller programs involves training military officers from 136 countries. More about that later.
The biggest element, some $6 billion, is foreign military financing, which helps more than 80 foreign governments buy U.S. weaponry. “Security assistance has broad foreign policy implications,” Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro told a Center for New American Security audience last Tuesday.
Shapiro, who heads the department’s bureau of political-military affairs, said what few people realize: When U.S. defense systems are purchased by a foreign country, either with their money or ours, both governments are entering into a long-term strategic relationship. Why? As Shapiro explained, “The complex and technical nature of advanced defense systems often require continuous collaboration . . . [that] includes training and support in the use of the equipment, maintenance, and help to update and modernize the equipment through its life cycle.”
He cites Israel and Egypt; together, the two countries get more than two-thirds of the annual foreign military financing — Israel gets $3 billion, Egypt $1.3 billion. It has been this way for decades.
The assistance to Israel provides them with “its quantitative military edge in the region,” according to Shapiro, and the funds for Egypt have been critical “to ensuring [its] continued role as a regional leader.”
Neither the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations nor the Senate panel attached provisions to require something from the Israeli government before they get the money. However, the House subcommittee carried language requiring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to certify that “Egypt has held free and fair elections and is implementing policies to protect due process and freedoms of expression and association,” before the funds are released. Both panels also required Clinton to certify that the new Egyptian leaders are adhering to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.”