A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
Rebalancing the Foreign Policy ToolboxFebruary 03, 2009
RE: Request for Hearing on “Rebalancing the Foreign Policy Toolbox”
Dear Chairman Spratt,
U.S. civilian foreign policy agencies are not equipped for the 21st century. It couldn’t be any clearer. President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary of State Clinton and many other senior officials have expressed the need to dramatically increase funding for the International Affairs Account (150). As the nation faces the greatest fiscal crisis since the great depression, it is more important than ever that U.S. tax dollars are spent wisely. In this regard, we request that the Budget Committee hold a hearing in February or March on “Rebalancing the Foreign Policy Toolbox.”
Nearly 700,000 civil servants work for the Department of Defense (DoD), while 25,000 work for the State Department, and fewer than 2,000 work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). During the Bush Administration’s tenure, annual military spending grew from $300 billion to nearly $800 billion, including emergency war supplemental funding. Meanwhile, the foreign affairs budget never surpassed $40 billion. Lastly, the ratio of funding for military force to civilian foreign engagement is 18:1, according to the Task Force for a Unified Security Budget.
The DoD has increased it’s role in activities traditionally undertaken by civilian agencies to “fill the gap” left by under-resourced civilian agencies. Senate Armed Services Committee staff articulated the problem well in the report accompanying the FY 09 National Defense Authorization Act. The Committee noted that “DOD funds are being used for urgent humanitarian and reconstruction assistance because the agencies normally responsible for those functions—the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development—are underfunded and lack authorities that allow for sufficient flexibility to respond to urgent, unanticipated requirements.”
As you prepare to consider the Obama administration’s first budget, the time is ripe for a review of U.S. spending on foreign engagement. The Budget Committee would be the optimal venue to examine the appropriate allocation of resources across military and civilian foreign policy agencies to meet 21st century security challenges.
We urge you to schedule a hearing on “Rebalancing the Foreign Policy Toolbox” as soon as possible. We welcome the opportunity to discuss potential expert witnesses and look forward to working with you to re-allocate resources to support a more effective and less costly approach to U.S. international engagement.
Thank you for your consideration,
Friends Committee on National Legislation
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