Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Diplomacy Budget Ballyhoo Embassies Are Not in Danger of a Funding Cutoff; Foreign Aid Ought to Be

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Diplomacy Budget Ballyhoo Embassies Are Not in Danger of a Funding Cutoff; Foreign Aid Ought to Be

Article excerpt

The Clinton administration says cuts in the United States foreign affairs budget are threatening the ability of the US to conduct foreign policy.

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher claims that "spending on international affairs has been slashed by 50 percent {since 1985}." He also insists that these "budget cuts have forced us to close over two dozen consulates and embassies." Indeed, President Clinton made similar arguments in his State of the Union address.

Yet, a careful analysis of the foreign affairs budget shows that these claims are inaccurate at best, and sometimes are downright misleading. The facts show that funding for US embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic programs is higher in real terms today than it was during most of the 1980s, at the height of the cold war. Funding fairly stable In fact, current funding for these programs has remained fairly stable for the past few years and is greater than levels in 1991. For example, funding for embassies, consulates, and international organizations has increased 13 percent in real terms since 1985 (see graph). Funding for embassies and consulates is not the only part of the foreign affairs budget that has increased. Current funding for the entire State Department, even after adjusting for inflation, is more than 25 percent higher today than it was in 1985. This is a far cry from the budget "hemorrhaging" described by Mr. Christopher. Where are the cuts? As it happens, the foreign affairs budget, in addition to spending for US embassies and consulates, supports numerous international organizations, development aid, security assistance, and export financing. In fact, non-embassy spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of the entire foreign affairs budget. Meanwhile, though there appears to be a reduction in recent foreign affairs spending in general, and in the account that funds US embassies and consulates specifically, most of this reduction has come in the form of reduced funding for peacekeeping operations. For example, US peacekeeping operations are funded out of the same account as are embassies and consulates. Thus, during the 1992-94 time frame, when the US was engaged in peacekeeping operations in places like Rwanda, Somalia, and Haiti, funding in this account actually increased. Naturally, when these peacekeeping operations ended or were scaled down, funding dropped off. Hence, much of the reduction in funding for the account covering embassies and consulates was the result of the diminishing role of peacekeeping operations. Spending on international financial programs and foreign aid, also included in the foreign affairs budget, has dropped, and rightly so. Our foreign aid program has created dependency in less-developed nations in much the same way that our welfare system creates it here at home. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.