America's current state of financial distress is forcing the first significant cuts in overseas aid in nearly two decades. Advocates and officials believe that these measures reflect the country's decline in ability to influence the world.
In attempts to cap off the growing national debt, both the House of Rep. and the Senate have proposed cutting financing for the State Department and its related aid agencies. The sectors that will be impacted include: food and medicine for Africa, relief for disaster-affected areas such as Pakistan, and political and economic assistance for new democracies of the Middle East.
This financial predicament we are in threatens a foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy and development, a complement to American military power. Also, it puts us a few steps back in the increase in foreign aid that President George W. Bush advocated for after the tragedies of September 11, 2001. With increase in international funding, hopes of reducing anti-American sentiment and roots of extremism would take place.
As quoted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, "There is a democratic awakening in places that have never dreamed of democracy. And it is unfortunate that it's happening at a historic time when our own government is facing so many serious economic challenges, because there's no way to have a Marshall Plan for the Middle East and North Africa."
Only one percent of the federal budget is allocated to foreign aid. With already a small budget, further cuts here puts our nation at a further disadvantage compared to our fellow wealth nations in providing international assistance. Needless to say, c
uts will be made to government programs across the board. But the funding for the State Department and foreign aid has proven to be the single largest cut to any one department with a reduction of $8 billion in April.
Representative Kay Granger, a Republican from Texas and chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign affairs said that the financial crisis faced has cornered us to make "a fundamental change" in how the foreign aid is spent.
While the final budget may remain uncertain, it is needless to say that foreign aid will decline for a second year.
Source: The New York Times