By Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State
Thank you very much, Madame Chairman, and congratulations on your assuming this post. And I want to thank you publicly for traveling to Haiti with our team on behalf of the efforts that the United States is pursuing there. And I also want to thank the Ranking Member for his leadership and support over these last years.
Late last night, I came back from round-the-clock meetings in Geneva to discuss the unfolding events in Libya. And I’d like to begin by offering a quick update.
We have joined the Libyan people in demanding that Qaddafi must go – now, without further violence or delay – and we are working to translate the world’s outrage into action and results.
Marathon diplomacy at the United Nations and with our allies has yielded quick, aggressive steps to pressure and isolate Libya’s leaders. USAID is focused on Libya’s food and medical supplies and is dispatching two expert humanitarian teams to help those fleeing the violence and who are moving into Tunisia and Egypt, which is posing tremendous burdens on those two countries. Our combatant commands are positioning assets to prepare to support these critical civilian humanitarian missions. And we are taking no options off the table so long as the Libyan Government continues to turn its guns on its own people.
The entire region is changing, and a strong and strategic American response is essential. In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war, or it could descend into chaos. The stakes are high. And this is an unfolding example of using the combined assets of smart power – diplomacy, development, and defense – to protect American security and interests and advance our values. This integrated approach is not just how we respond to the crisis of the moment. It is the most effective – and most cost-effective – way to sustain and advance our security across the world. And it is only possible with a budget that supports all the tools in our national security arsenal – which is what we are here to discuss.
The American people are justifiably concerned about our national debt. I share that concern. But they also want responsible investments in our future that will make us stronger at home and continuing our leadership abroad. Just two years after President Obama and I first asked you to renew our investment in development and diplomacy, we are already seeing tangible returns for our national security:
In Iraq, almost 100,000 troops have come home, and civilians are poised to keep the peace. In Afghanistan, integrated military and civilian surges have helped set the stage for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al-Qaida on the run. We have imposed the toughest ever sanctions to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We have reengaged as a leader in the Pacific and in our own hemisphere. We have signed trade deals to promote American jobs and nuclear weapons treaties to protect our people. We have worked with Northern and Southern Sudanese to achieve a peaceful referendum and prevent a return to civil war. We are working to open up political systems, economies, and societies at a remarkable moment in the history of the Middle East, and to support peaceful, orderly, irreversible democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Our progress is significant, but our work is far from over. These missions are vital to our national security, and I believe with all my heart now would be the wrong time to pull back.
The FY 2012 budget we discuss today will allow us to keep pressing ahead. It is a lean budget for lean times. I did launch the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to help us maximize the impact of every dollar we spend. We scrubbed this budget and made painful but responsible cuts. We cut economic assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia by 15 percent. We cut development assistance to over 20 countries by more than half.
And this year, for the first time, our request is divided into two parts. Our core budget request of $47 billion supports programs and partnerships in every country but North Korea. 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 that the Pentagon’s request is funded: in a separate Overseas Contingency Operations account known as OCO. Instead of covering our war expenses through supplemental appropriations, we are now taking a more transparent approach that reflects our fully integrated civilian-military efforts on the ground. Our share of the President’s $126 billion request for these exceptional wartime costs in the frontline states is 8.7 billion.
Let me walk you through a few of our key investments. First, this budget funds vital civilian missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, al-Qaida is under pressure as never before. Alongside our military offensive, we are engaged in a major civilian effort that is helping to build up the governments, economies, and civil societies of both countries and undercut the insurgency.
Now, these two surges, the military and civilian surge, set the stage for a third: a diplomatic push in support of an Afghan process to split the Taliban from al-Qaida, bring the conflict to an end, and help stabilize the region. Our military commanders are emphatic they cannot succeed without a strong civilian partner. Retreating from our civilian surge in Afghanistan with our troops still in the field would be a grave mistake.
Equally important is our assistance to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with strong ties and interests in Afghanistan. We are working to deepen our partnership and keep it focused on addressing Pakistan’s political and economic challenges as well as our shared threats.
And as to Iraq, after so much sacrifice, we do have a chance to help the Iraqi people build a stable, democratic country in the heart of the Middle East. As troops come home, our civilians are taking the lead, helping Iraqis resolve conflicts peacefully and training their police.
Shifting responsibilities from soldiers to civilians actually saves taxpayers a great deal of money. For example, the military’s total OCO request worldwide will drop by $45 billion from 2010 as our troops come home. Our costs, the State Department and USAID, will increase by less than 4 billion. Every business owner I know would gladly invest $4 to save $45.
Second, even as our civilians help bring today’s wars to a close, we are working to prevent tomorrow’s. This budget devotes over $4 billion to sustaining a strong U.S. presence in volatile places where our security and interests are at stake. In Yemen, it provides security, development, and humanitarian assistance to deny al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula a safe haven and to promote the kind of stability that can lead to a better outcome than what might otherwise occur. It focuses on these same goals in Somalia. It helps Northern and Southern Sudan chart a peaceful future. It helps Haiti rebuild. And it proposes a new Global Security Contingency Fund that would pool resources and expertise with the Defense Department to respond quickly as new challenges emerge.
This budget also strengthens our allies and partners. It trains Mexican police to take on violent cartels and secure our southern border. It provides nearly $3.1 billion for Israel and supports Jordan and the Palestinians. It helps Egypt and Tunisia build stable and credible democracy, and it supports security assistance to over 130 nations.
Now, some may say, well, what does this get us in America? Let me give you one example. Over the years, these funds have created valuable ties with foreign militaries and trained, in Egypt, a generation of officers who refused to fire on their own people. And that was not something that happened overnight. It was something that happened because of relationships that had been built over decades. Across the board, we are working to ensure that all who share the benefits of our spending also share the burdens of addressing common challenges.
Third, we are making targeted investments in human security. We have focused on hunger, disease, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies because these challenges not only threaten the security of individuals – they are the seeds of future conflicts. If we want to lighten the burden on future generations, we have to make investments that makes our world more secure for them.
Our largest investment is in global health programs, including those launched by former President George W. Bush. These programs stabilize entire societies that have been and are being devastated by HIV, malaria, and other diseases. They save the lives of mothers and children and halt the spread of deadly diseases.
Global food prices are approaching an all-time high. Three years ago, this led to protests and riots in dozens of countries. Food security is a cornerstone of global stability, and we are helping farmers grow more food, drive economic growth, and turn aid recipients into trading partners.
Climate change threatens food security, human security, and national security. Our budget builds resilience against droughts, floods, and other weather disasters; promotes clean energy and preserves tropical forests. It also gives us leverage to persuade China, India, and other nations to do their essential part in meeting this urgent threat.
Fourth, we are committed to making our foreign policy a force for domestic economic renewal and creating jobs here at home. We are working aggressively to promote sustained economic growth, level the playing fields, and open markets. To give just one example, the eight Open Skies Agreements that we have signed over the last two years will open dozens of new markets to American carriers. The Miami International Airport, Madam Chairman, which supports nearly 300[i] jobs –including many in your district – will see a great deal of new business thanks to agreements with Miami’s top trading partners, Brazil and Colombia.
Fifth and finally, this budget funds the people and the platforms that make possible everything I’ve described. It allows us to sustain diplomatic relations with 190 countries. It funds political officers who are literally, right now, out working to defuse political crises and promote our values; development officers who are spreading opportunity and promoting stability; and economic officers who wake up every day thinking about how to help put Americans back to work.
Several of you have already asked our Department about the safety of your constituents in the Middle East. Well, this budget also helps fund the consular officers who evacuated over 2,600 people thus far from Egypt and Libya – and nearly 17,000 from Haiti. They issued 14 million passports last year and served as our first line of defense against would-be terrorists seeking visas to enter our country.
I’d like to say just a few words about the funding for the rest of 2011. As I told Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, and many others, the 16 percent cut for State and USAID that passed the House last month would be devastating for our national security. It would force us to scale back dramatically on critical missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
And as Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus have all emphasized to the Congress, we need a fully engaged and fully funded national security team, and that includes State and USAID.
Now, there have always been moments of temptation in our country to resist obligations beyond our borders. But each time we have shrunk from global leadership, events have summoned us back, often cruelly, to reality. We saved money in the short term when we walked away from Afghanistan after the Cold War. But those savings came at an unspeakable cost – one we are still paying, ten years later, in money and lives.
Generations of Americans, including my own, have grown up successful and safe because we chose to lead the world in tackling the greatest challenges. We invested the resources to build up democratic allies and vibrant trading partners. And we did not shy away from defending our values, promoting our interests, and seizing the opportunities of each new era.
I have now traveled more than any Secretary of State in the last two years, and I can tell you from firsthand experience the world has never been in greater need of the qualities that distinguish us: our openness and innovation, our determination, our devotion to universal values. Everywhere I travel, I see people looking to us for leadership. Sometimes I see them after they have condemned us publicly on their television channels and then come to us privately and say we can’t do this without America.
This is a source of great strength, a point of pride, and I believe an unbelievable opportunity for the American people. But it is an achievement. It is not a birthright. It requires resolve and it requires resources.
I look forward to working closely together with you to do what is necessary to keep our country safe and maintain American leadership in this fast-changing world. Thank you, Madam Chairman.