Secretary Clinton Speaks Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 10, 2011

More:FY 2012 State and USAID - Core Budget | FY 2012 State and USAID - Overseas Contingency Operations

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified today before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The Secretary said:

"...I want to join my voice to those of the Chairwoman, who has made it very clear that the American people have a right to be justifiably concerned about our national debt. I am, too. But I know that we have so many tough decisions that we're facing right now, that the American people also want us to be smart about the decisions we make and the investments that we are making in the future. Just two years ago, I asked that we renew our investment in development and diplomacy, and we are seeing tangible results.

"...The FY 2012 budget is a budget that will allow us to continue pressing forward. We think it is a lean budget for lean times. I launched the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to help us maximize the impact of every dollar. We scrubbed this budget and we made painful but responsible cuts. We cut economic assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, to the Caucasus, to Central Asia. We cut development assistance to over 20 countries by more than half.

"This year, for the first time, our request is divided into two parts: Our core budget request is $47 billion for the State Department and USAID. That supports programs and partnerships in every country but North Korea, and it is essentially flat from 2010 levels.

"The second part of our request funds the extraordinary, temporary portion of our war effort the same way the Pentagon's request is funded: in a separate Overseas Contingency Operations account known as OCO. Instead of covering war expenses through supplemental appropriations, we are now taking a more transparent approach that fully reflects the integrated civilian-military efforts. Our share of the President's $126 billion request for exceptional wartime costs is $8.7 billion. So all told, we have a $47 billion operational account and an $8.7 billion Overseas Contingency Operations account.

"...I know that 2011 is a tough time. And I sent Chairman Rogers a letter. I've spoken to Speaker Boehner. It will be very difficult for us as we are now planning our civilian efforts in an ongoing way in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to absorb a 16 percent cut that passed the House last month. We've got to do our part with the military. And I know that what is often the case is we talk about non-defense discretionary. And of course, that leaves out State and USAID. It includes the Department of Homeland Security. It includes Veterans and includes Defense. But here we are; I've got diplomats and development experts in Helmand Province, I've got them going in with the Marines into Kandahar, I've got them trying to figure out how we're going to have a strong, robust presence in Iraq to stand against Iran and to support that Iraqi Government. We cannot plan what we are expected to do if we can't get the budget for '11 that we have premised the planning on.

"Now, finally, I know how tough these decisions are. I was here in the ‘90s, not in this capacity, and I saw the difficult decisions we made then which put us on a path to having balanced budgets, surpluses, and frankly, being on the road to actually balancing our budget; 9/11 happened, a lot of other things happened in the following years. We are trying to get ourselves back on a strong fiscal footing. Unfortunately, the world hasn't stopped while we do that. And so as I look at the challenges for global leadership from the United States, I know we are tempted to try to step back from these obligations. But every time we've done that, it's come back and hit us right square between the eyes. We left Afghanistan after we pushed the Soviet Union out, and now we're paying a terrible price for that.

"Generations of Americans have grown up successful and safe because we've stepped up. We think that in the world today we have more than we can say grace over, but we are positioned to try to deal with it. And we cannot do it unless we remember that our national security depends not just on defense, but on diplomacy and development working together unlike anything we've ever done historically today, to really deliver on America's security, our interests, and our values. Thank you."

You can read the Secretary's full remarks here.

Related Content: Video of Deputy Secretary Thomas Nide's statement before the Senate Budget Committe on the President's FY 2012 Defense and International Affairs Budget



New Mexico, USA
March 11, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It's disheartening to think that there is much political stupidity afoot in desperate measure to balance the budget that folks seem completely willing to lose a war over it by not funding the winning of the peace.

While Iran once again has been caught red-handed supplying arms to the Taliban by our friends the Brits.

And how many years has this nation of ours invested trillons of dollars in the rest of the world's peace and security and economic well-being because it was deemed to be rightfully in our national interest to promote the peace and prosperity of nations?

Let me then offer a suggestion that we have this 14 trillion dollar cluster-#$@@! because no one was willing to bill our antagonists for the trouble they've cost us, let alone those who's economies have prospered becuse of our massive investment over decades in their well-being as nations.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me my government's whole approach to resolving our debt has been without a thought of calling in the markers owed to us.

By friend and foe alike.

Once opon a time we built a road through Burma to arm and supply China in its struggle to defend itself against Japan, and when the Communists took power refused to recognise the debt owed by the former gov.

A rough estimate of the principal and the interest owed on the cost of their independance as a nation from direct US efforts in WW2 building that road through the worst terrain imaginable, is today about a trillion dollars.

The State dept has the ability to do its own research into it, and it might be worth doing as succesful collection on this account would fund State/USAID for some years to come without a hassle from Congress.

I've asked this question before and can't seem to get an answer to it on this blog, so again,

"Who do we owe a debt to?"

And maybe someone will be kind enough to explain why.

If a government is going to arm our enemies, does it not stand to reason we have the right to rob them blind to pay for the cost of defending against them, and fighting the war they wish us to lose?

If we must engage in "regime replacement therapy" in Iran to put a halt to that government's activities, then the nation of Iran can, will and should pay for the cost of doing so for decades to come, in hard currency.

Having siezed 30 billion in Ghaddafi's assets, the like minded nations willing to do so with UN mandate or the legitamacy of the will of nations and the evidence on the ground as legal grounds to do what needs to be done, can pay for the removal of Ghaddafi without touching their own coffers.

Military action I agree opens a door to unintended concequences, but we didn't open that door, Ghaddafi did when he went to war on his people.

Iran's leadership did when they declared us "the great Satan" and devoted themselves to our demise as a nation.

Time for some pay-back.

What is knowable by all acounts is that doing nothing physical to stop Ghaddafi and the government of Iran will result in an ever expanding humanitarian crisis, which we the Ameican people through our government have the power to prevent, regardless of whether we go it alone or not, and preferably not...

Is my government commited to sitting by and being witness? I think not when all is said and decided upon.

The opportunity the Sec. spoke of in MENA, with all the change occuring is in essence to be in a position to win the lasting respect and thanks of the people of the region for furthering their claims to liberty in every facet imaginable, including stepping into the unknown with uncertain returns percievable at present.

When has this nation ever shied away from a fight for the right reasons.

I can understand if after 10 years of war folks generally are a little gun-shy of getting involved in the direct armed liberation of another nation, and the removal of yet another tyranical regime by the force of arms.

But folks are looking to us for many things, and we best be getting creative about balancing our budget in order not to disapoint the future we've promised ourselves.

'cause the rest of the world is counting on us to keep it.

They may not like how we go about it in every aspect, but results matter, and that's what people remember and base their opinions on.

Nipping al-quaida's and Iran's intent in the bud will depend on the swift resolution of people's uncertainty in the region, both from a peace and security standpoint as well as economic.

Sieze the moment and sieze the assets of ethical infants.

And if you're going to call for Ghaddafi to leave, might as well tell that to Amanutijob and the grand poobah of Iran too, since you have them placed in such good company as the taliban.

The war on terror is still being fought on many fronts in mutiple theaters and within international fora.

As was told to us years ago, "This is an evolving struggle."

Let's not fail to win this.


Illinois, USA
March 13, 2011

Sue in Illinois writes:

I recommend that the State Department look to garner buy in from the Karzai Administration concerning women's issues. If not, the State Department's efforts to improve women's issues likely will not be lasting or effective.


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