A Perspective on Proposed Defense and Foreign Aid Budget Cuts

Diane E. Watson (Former US Representative for California’s 33rd Congressional District, Ambassador to Micronesia, 1998-2001)


At a time when violence is raging in Syria as the deadline to begin implementing an Arab League sponsored plan is to expire—throwing a solid agreement into chaos amid fear that this situation could lead toward civil war; while Egypt cools down from an eruption of anger at the ruling military council prior to the Parliamentary elections; with the Arab Spring uprising in neighboring Tunisia and Pakistan’s president supporting a request for Washington’s help in reining  in the country’s powerful military,  the call for democracy needs our guiding hand.

A diplomatic presence is a necessity, freeing President Obama to join efforts on economic growth and maritime security.  Now fear of the economy has replaced fear of terrorism.  Our Ambassadors abroad are placed in strategic positions to our global stance.  We must rely on those at our posts to be observant and decipher the meaning.  With hot spots erupting in the Delta, a Congressional debate on military spending puts the national security at risk as Iran is asserting herself seeking with a nuclear program and Israel has already shown its appetite for attacking the danger next door.  As allies, it becomes our war too.  Defense cuts at this time would invite aggression to our borders.

Already there are signs of more trouble ahead with the attack on the British diplomatic compound in Tehran and Western countries recalling their ambassadors.   We, in the West, see a greater involvement in foreign affairs as a way to influence the world’s direction in a future that presents many global challenges.  The need for a strong, professional diplomatic corps is essential as we move forward in this future.

All considered, is this the time to cut funding for the State Department and defense?