Washington Post Editorial 02/24/11: A Broader Approach to National Security

Opinion article in the Washington Post, by Conor Williams, argues the importance of focusing on human security in the international arena instead of solely addressing national security in military terms.  The United States spends about one percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance, compared to the twenty percent spent on the military.  The new budget cuts could mean the United States will spend even less money on foreign aid in the future.

“As several of the world’s dictators have learned recently, political stability is about more than just military strength. Economic desperation and ineffective political institutions breed dissatisfaction that can eventually lead to uprisings.”

“It’s much cheaper to address desperate poverty and humanitarian crises before they lead to security challenges that involve military intervention. It’s also easier to help develop markets and trading partners than it is to slay all of America’s enemies. It’s in our national interest to promote human security across the globe.”

DOD and State Department Responses to FY 2012 Budget

“I am writing regarding the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed spending levels for State and foreign operations in fiscal year 2011. Our estimate of the Committee’s allocation for the State Department and USAID amounts to a 16 percent reduction from our actual FY 2010 funding, and a 19 percent cut to our 2011 request. The bill further proposes to cut out humanitarian assistance accounts by 41 percent from 2010 levels.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Letter to Chairman Harold Rogers, Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives

“The budget request for the Department of Defense today includes a base budget request of $553 billion and an Overseas Contingency Operations request of $117.8 billion.  These budget decisions took place in the context of a nearly two year effort by this Department to reduce overhead, cull troubled and excess programs, and rein in personnel and contractor costs – all for the purpose of preserving the global reach and fighting strength of America’s military at a time of fiscal stress for our country.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Opening Summary — House Armed Services Committee (Budget Request)

We welcome your comments on the 2012 Budget and DOD and State Department Budget Requests.