I also greatly appreciate the travel that both of you have just described having taken. I think it’s absolutely essential to see what is going on in the world with your own eyes and to hear from leaders and citizens with your own ears. So let me express to you and to all members our appreciation.
We know how quickly the world is transforming, from Arab revolutions to the rise of new economic powers, to a more dispersed but still dangerous al-Qaida terrorist threat. In this time, only the United States of America has the reach, resources, and relationships to anchor a more peaceful and prosperous world. The State Department and USAID budget we discuss today is a proven investment in our national and economic security, but it’s also something more. It is a down payment on continuing American leadership.
When I took this job, I saw a world that needed America, but also one that questioned our focus and our staying power. So we have worked together to put American leadership on a firm foundation for the decades ahead. We have ended one war, we are winding down another. We’ve cemented our place as a Pacific power while maintaining our alliance across the Atlantic. We have elevated the role of economics within our diplomacy, and we have reached beyond governments to engage directly with people with a special focus on women and girls.
We are updating our diplomacy and development for the 21st century and finding ways to work smarter and more efficiently. After the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, we created two new bureaus focused on counterterrorism and energy, and reorganized a third focused on fragile states.
Now, like many Americans in our tough economic times, we’ve made difficult tradeoffs and painful cuts. We have requested 18 percent less for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia, preserving our most essential programs and using the savings for more urgent needs elsewhere. We are scaling back on construction, improving procurement, and taking steps across the board to lower costs.
Now, within the Foreign Ops budget, the State Department and USAID are requesting $51.6 billion. That represents an increase of less than the rate of inflation and just over 1 percent of the federal budget, even as our responsibilities multiply around the world.
Today, I want to highlight five priorities.
First, our request allows us to sustain our vital national security missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and reflects the temporary extraordinary costs of operating on the front lines. As President Obama has said, the tide of war is receding, but as troops come home, civilians remain to carry out the critical missions of diplomacy and development.
In Iraq, civilians are now in the lead, helping that country emerge as a stable, sovereign, democratic partner. This does increase our civilian budget, but State and USAID are asking for only one-tenth of the $48 billion the United States Government spent on Iraq as recently as 2011. The 2013 U.S. Government-wide request for Iraq, including defense spending, is now $40 billion less than it was just two years ago. So we think that this is a continuing good investment to stabilize the sacrifice that our men and women in uniform, our civilians, our taxpayers, have made.
Over time, despite the past weeks’ violence, we expect to see similar government-wide savings in Afghanistan. This year’s request will support the ongoing transition, helping Afghans take responsibility for their own future and ensure their country is never again a safe haven for terrorists who can target us.
Next door, we have a challenging but critical relationship with Pakistan, and we remain committed to working on issues of joint interest, including counterterrorism, economic stability, and regional cooperation.
Second, in the Asia Pacific, this Administration is making an unprecedented effort to build a strong network of relationships and institutions in which the United States is anchored. In the century ahead, no region will be more consequential. As we tighten our belts around the world, we are investing the diplomatic attention necessary to do more with less. In Asia, we pursue what we call forward-deployed diplomacy – strengthening our alliances, launching new strategic dialogues and economic initiatives, creating and joining important multilateral institutions, pursuing a possible opening with Burma – all of which underscores that America will remain a Pacific power.
Third, we are focused on the wave of change sweeping the Arab world. As the region transforms, so must our engagement. Alongside our bilateral and security support, we are proposing a $770 million Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund. This fund will support credible proposals validated by rigorous analysis and by Congress from countries that make a meaningful commitment to democratic change, effective institution building, and broad-based economic growth. In an unpredictable time, it lets us respond to all of the unanticipated needs in a way that reflects our leadership and agility in the region.
This budget request would also allow us to help the Syrian people survive a brutal assault and plan for a future without Assad. It continues our assistance for civil society and Arab partners in Jordan, Morocco, and elsewhere. And I want to echo Senator Graham’s emphasis on Tunisia, a country that I think deserves a lot of attention and support from the United States.
The budget also provides a record level of support for Israel and it makes possible our diplomacy at the UN and around the world, which has now put in place, with your help, the toughest sanctions Iran or any nation has ever faced.
The fourth priority is what I call economic statecraft; in particular, how we use diplomacy and development to create American jobs – jobs in Ohio and New Jersey and Maryland and Vermont and South Carolina and Indiana. We have more than 1,000 State Department economic officers working to help American businesses connect to new markets and consumers. We are pushing back against corruption, red tape, favoritism, distorted currencies, and intellectual property theft.
Our investment in development helps create the trading partners of the future, and we have worked closely on the three trade agreements that we believe will create tens of thousands of new American jobs. We hope to work with Congress to ensure that as Russia enters the WTO, foreign competitors do not have an advantage over American businesses.
And finally, we are elevating development alongside diplomacy and defense within foreign policy. Poverty, disease, hunger, climate change can destabilize entire societies and sow the seeds for future conflict. We have to make strategic investments today to meet even our traditional foreign policy goals tomorrow. Through the Global Health Initiative, we are consolidating programs, increasing partners’ capacities, and shifting responsibilities to help target our resources where they are most needed and highest impact, including in areas like maternal and child health. Our Feed the Future Initiative is helping millions of men, women, and children by driving agricultural growth and improving nutrition to hasten the day when countries no longer need food aid at all.
As we pursue these initiatives, we are transforming the way we do development, making it a priority to partner with governments, local groups, and the private sector to deliver measurable results. Ultimately, our goal is to empower people to create and seize their own opportunities.
These five priorities, Mr. Chairman, are each crucial for American leadership, and they rely on the work of some of the most capable, hardest working, and bravest people I have ever met: the men and women of State and USAID. Working with them is one of the greatest honors I have had in public life. So with so much on the line, we simply cannot pull back. And I know this subcommittee understands this.
But for me, American leadership is personal. After three years, 95 countries, over 700,000 miles, I know very well what it means to land in a plane that says United States of America on the side, to have that flag right there as I walk down the stairs. People look to us to protect our allies and stand by our principles and serve as an honest broker in making peace; in fighting hunger, poverty, and disease; to standing up to bullies and tyrants. American leadership is not just respected, it is required, and it takes more than just resolve and a lot of hours in the plane. It takes resources.
This country is an unparalleled force for good in the world, and we all want to make sure it stays that way. So I urge you to work with us to make this investment in strong American leadership and a more peaceful and prosperous future. Thank you very much.