- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Former Secretaries of State Colin L. Powell and Madeleine K. Albright warned yesterday that proposed funding cuts for international programs could jeopardize national security.

“I have been arguing this case for 30 years,” Mrs. Albright said, speaking at a Washington forum hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign (USGLC). “The question has always been how to sell this. I think we need to change the name from ‘foreign aid’ to ‘national security support,’ because when people hear ‘national security,’ they immediately salute and with good reason.”

President Bush requested $35.11 billion — up from $31.57 billion enacted last year — to fund U.S. international affairs in fiscal 2007, accounting for 1.2 percent of total government spending.

But the House Appropriations Committee recently cut Mr. Bush’s wish list by nearly $3 billion, to $32.28 billion.

The international affairs budget funds a variety of initiatives, including poverty alleviation, HIV/AIDS programs, land mine removal in former conflict areas, and diplomacy, according to USGLC.

Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, recently announced his plan for cuts as well, which would leave the Senate-approved foreign affairs budget at $32.66 billion.

“This is not the place to cut. You look at the places where Congress is making increases, and you say, ‘What are they thinking?’” Mr. Powell said, addressing an auditorium of businessmen and representatives from nongovernmental organizations.

Mr. Powell urged them to “march up to the Hill” to express their concerns over the proposed cuts.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the foreign affairs budget tomorrow.

Last month, Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican; and Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, sent a letter signed by 52 senators to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging full funding of the requested budget.

“A majority of my colleagues in the Senate agree that it is critical that we continue to fund our U.S. International Affairs Budget. Terrorist networks recruit from the ranks of the millions of hungry, hopeless, and uneducated youth found throughout the developing world,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

Supporters of full funding argue that more money spent on international projects would not only increase global security, but also open up business opportunities abroad.

“The world Madeleine and I grew up in was a world of battlefields. But today, I think it’s a world of playing fields, with great opportunities. Countries once closed to us, like China and India, are now ready and willing to do business,” said Mr. Powell, who was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, under Mr. Bush.

Mrs. Albright, who served President Clinton from 1997 to 2001, said the proposed budget asks for a small amount of taxpayer money for a very worthy purpose.

“[Warren] Buffet gave that much money away the other day,” Mrs. Albright said.

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