This week, two retired military officers added their voices to the chorus of generals, politicians, faith leaders, and businesses urging against President Trump’s proposed cuts to the budgets of the State Department and USAID.
In an op-ed in Politico, Admiral (Ret.) Michael Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011) and General (Ret.) James Jones (commandant of the Marine Corps and served as Supreme Allied Commander-Europe from 2003 to 2006) argue that development aid is critical to America’s national security.
“Strategic development assistance is not charity; it is an essential, modern tool of U.S. national security. Foreign assistance should be respected — and budgeted — as an investment in the enhancement of stability in the world’s most vulnerable places, not as a no-strings-attached giveaway to poorer nations.”
It’s true: If the goal is to increase our national security, cutting our foreign assistance budget is one of the last things we should do. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis once said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Strategic development assistance is in the United States’ clear national interest.
Also in the op-ed, Mullen and Jones also argue that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to aid could put our armed forces at risk:
“The faithful service, courage, and sacrifice of our service members deserves and demands that we address and develop the strongest possible strategy for conflict-prevention that our nation can muster. Cutting the International Affairs budget will hurt our country’s ability to stop new conflicts from forming, and will place our interests, values, and the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk. Congress should reject the administration’s proposed cuts and instead fully fund the international affairs budget. Our military is counting on it.”
Cutting the budgets of State and USAID by a third would be shortsighted and devastating to programs that are saving lives, building capacity, protecting Americans, and advancing America’s interests around the world. We have to stop this in its tracks. Congress has the final say on spending decisions, but they need to know that their constituents—that’s YOU—want to stop these cuts. Sign the petition today.