Thank you very much, Chairman Leahy, and Ranking Member Graham. It’s wonderful being back here in the Senate and having this opportunity to discuss these important issues with you. And I welcome all the new members to the Senate. I hope that they enjoy their time here as much as I enjoyed my eight years. I’m looking forward to working with this committee because there is an enormous amount that we have to do together.
I recently took part on Monday in emergency meetings in Geneva to discuss the unfolding events in Libya, and I’d like to begin by offering you a brief update. We have joined the Libyan people in demanding that Colonel Qadhafi must go now, without further violence or delay. And we are working to translate the world’s outrage into actions and results.
Marathon diplomacy at the United Nations and with our allies has yielded quick, aggressive steps to pressure and isolate Libya’s leaders. We welcomed yesterday’s decision to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council, as I had urged a day earlier. USAID is focused on Libya’s food and medical supplies and is dispatching two expert humanitarian teams to help those fleeing the violence into Tunisia and Egypt. Our combatant commands are positioning assets to prepare to support these critical civilian missions. And we are taking no option 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, strategic American response will be essential. In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face a protracted civil war, or it could fall into chaos. The stakes are high. This is an unfolding example of using the combined assets of diplomacy, development, and defense to protect our 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 interests across the world. And it is only possible with a budget that supports all the tools in our national security arsenal.
Now, I agree that the American people today are justifiably concerned about our national debt, but I also believe that we have an opportunity as well as an obligation to make decisions today that will keep us safer and more secure and more prosperous into the future.
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 an Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al-Qaida on the run. We have imposed the toughest sanctions yet 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 worked with northern and southern Sudanese to achieve a peaceful resolution and prevent a return to civil war. And we are working to open political systems, economies, and societies at this remarkable moment in history in the Middle East, where we are trying to support orderly, peaceful, irreversible democratic transitions.
Our progress is significant, but our work is ongoing. We believe, obviously, that these missions are vital to our national security, and 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 launched the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, following on my experience when I served with Senator Graham on the Armed Services Committee, what the Pentagon had done with its Quadrennial Defense Review. So this QDDR helped us maximize the impact of every dollar we spend. We scrubbed the budget; we 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 in two parts. Our core budget request is for $47 billion, which 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 that we are responsible for in the same way 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 effort on the ground. Our share of the President’s $126 billion request for these exceptional wartime costs is 8.7 billion.
Let me now walk you through a few of these 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 to help build up the governments, economies, and civil societies of those countries in order to undercut the insurgency. These two surges 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 entire region. Our military commanders, as you just heard, including General Petraeus, are emphatic that 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 after so much sacrifice in Iraq, we 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 police.
Shifting responsibilities from our soldiers to our civilians actually saves taxpayers a great deal of money. The military’s total OCO request worldwide will drop by $45 billion from 2010, while our costs in State and USAID will increase by less than 4 billion. Every business owner I know would gladly invest 4 dollars to save 45.
Second, even as our civilians help bring today’s war 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. In Yemen, it is helping to provide security, development, and humanitarian assistance to deny al-Qaida a safe haven. It focuses on those same goals in Somalia. It is helping Northern and Southern Sudanese chart a peaceful future, helping Haiti to rebuild, and it proposes a new Global Security Contingency Fund that would pool resources and expertise with the Defense Department to quickly respond to challenges as they 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 does help Egypt and Tunisia build stable and credible democratic systems, and it supports security assistance to over 130 nations. As Senator Graham said, over the years we’ve seen great ties created because of that funding. We did help to train a generation of Egyptian officers who refused to fire on their own people.
Third, we are making targeted investments in human security. We have focused on hunger, disease, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies, because they threaten not only the security of individuals but they are the seeds of future conflict.
Our largest investment is in global health programs, including those launched by President George W. Bush. These programs stabilize entire societies that have been devastated by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other illnesses. They save the lives of mothers and children, and halt the spread of deadly diseases.
And yes, global food prices are approaching an all-time high. And three years ago, this led to protests and riots in dozens of countries. Food security is a cornerstone of global stability, and we, under our policy, are helping farmers grow more food, drive economic growth, and turn aid recipients into trading partners.
And climate change threatens food security, human security, and national security, so our budget builds resilience against droughts, floods, and other weather disasters; promotes clean energy and preserves tropical forests.
Fourth, we are committed to making our foreign policy a force for domestic economic renewal. We are working aggressively to promote sustained economic growth, level the playing field, and open markets to create jobs here at home. To give you just one example, our economic officers in Vietnam helped Boeing secure a $1.5 billion contract for eight 787 aircrafts to be assembled in North Charleston, South Carolina. And I personally lobbied for that, Senator.
Fifth and finally, this budget funds the people and the platforms that make everything possible that I’ve described. It allows us to sustain diplomatic relations with 190 countries. It funds political officers defusing crises, development officers spreading opportunity, economic officers who wake up every day thinking about how to put Americans back to work.
Several of you have asked the Department about the safety of your constituents in the Middle East. Well, this budget helps fund the consular officers who evacuated over 2,600 people 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.
At the same time, I’d like to say just a few words about funding for the rest of 2011. As I told Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers and many others, the 16 percent cut for State and USAID that passed the House last month would be devastating to our national security. It is no longer possible in the 21st century to say that you are walling off national security by going after non-defense discretionary spending. We are so much more integrated and interdependent, and it would force us to scale back dramatically on critical missions that are absolutely supported by Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus and others.
Now there have always been moments of temptation in our country to resist obligations beyond our borders, but each time we shrink from global leadership, events summon us back to reality. Now, we saved money in the short term when we walked away from Afghanistan after the Cold War, but those savings came at unspeakable cost, one we are still paying 10 years later in money and lives. We have, over generations, enabled Americans to grow up successful and safe because we’ve led the world. We’ve invested resources to build democratic allies and vibrant trading partners, and we did not shy away from defending our values, promoting our interests, and seizing opportunities.
Having now traveled more than any Secretary of State in our history, I know that 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. This is a source of strength, a point of pride, and an opportunity for the American people, but it is an achievement, not a birthright. It requires resolve, and it requires resources, and I look forward to working closely with you as we try to keep our country safe and maintain American leadership in the world.