A few days ago, Trump’s cabinet announced its plan to cut the State Department’s budget by 37 %, including a great reduction in foreign aid in order to increase U.S. defense spending by $54 billion. That’s a 10% increase over the cap on defense spending imposed by a budget deal that Congress passed six years ago. White House Office of Management Budget director Mick Mulvaney said:
“We are going to propose to reduce foreign aid and we are going to propose to spend that money here,“He added that the proposed cuts would include “fairly dramatic reductions in foreign aid.”
“The overriding message is fairly straightforward: less money spent overseas means more money spent here.”
Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid has been strongly responded to by both Republicans and Democrats who think it could help terrorist organizations to expand their operational capacities. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said:
“I am very concerned by reports of deep cuts that could damage efforts to combat terrorism, save lives and create opportunities for American workers.”
Among Republicans, Service intelligence agents and several generals, there is an increasing concern that either Trump thinks that foreign aid means to help foreign charitable organizations or that he is just seeking a new war, probably against Iran or North Korea. In fact, a potential war with either of them would undermine any effort to make America safer. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, tweeted last week:
“Foreign Aid is not charity.We must make sure it is well spent, but it is less than 1% of the budget & critical to our national security.”
Trump’s obsession to start his war games is blinding him from reading reality. Increasing the defense budget will not make America safer without diplomacy. Included in the State Department’s budget is: diplomacy task which is essential to prevent new conflicts from erupting, as Secretary of Defense Jim Matis who was a general, back in 2013 said:
“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost-benefit ratio,” Mattis told members of Congress.
“The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully, the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.”
More than 120 retired three and four-star generals sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership calling on Congress to “ensure that resources for the International Affairs Budget keep pace with the growing global threats and opportunities we face.” They also warned that Trump’s budget proposal would be extremely dangerous for American citizens. They added:
“Elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”
“We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone,””The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”
The letter was signed by some of the most prominent U.S. military officers to serve in recent decades, including retired General George Casey, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army; retired General David Petraeus, the former CIA director and commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of U.S. Central Command; retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO; and retired General Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency.
Apparently, the Congress with Republican majority will refuse Trump’s budget since most of the Congressmen think its approval would weaken the security of the nation. However, American society will still be concerned until it happens due to Republicans‘ tendency for mind changes at the last moment. During the last presidential campaign, there were many republicans who said they would never vote for Trump, but in the end, they did.
For now, Congress will wait for Trump’s proposal and see if there is any modification. Even if it is finally modified, there is great concern that the increase in the defense budget will remain, which would mean a threat to the safety of American society. Regardless of the result, the most important point is that Trump will not have the last word.