Tillerson Responds to North Korean Missile Launch With a 23-Word Statement ūüĎÄ

Posted: 12:49 am ET





The Last Time @StateDept Had a 27% Budget Cut, Congress Killed ACDA and USIA

Posted: 4:39 am ET


Reporting for the Washington Post in 1996, Thomas Lippman wrote that “The total budget for civilian international programs, the so-called 150 account, started to decline in the mid-1980s. It leveled off during the Bush administration, then resumed a downward slide in President Clinton’s first year.” He noted that “the relentless budget pressure that began in the mid-1980s accelerated with the Clinton administration’s deficit-reduction plan, forcing the closing of consulates, aid missions, libraries, cultural centers and even a few entire embassies, from Italy to Indonesia, from Antigua to Thailand” (see U.S. Diplomacy’s Presence Shrinking).

Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States defeating incumbent George H. W. Bush in 1992.  Warren M. Christopher was nominated Secretary of State by then President-elect Clinton in December 1992.  Christopher was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 20, 1993, and sworn in the next day. Two months into the new administration, Secretary Christopher made his first official congressional appearance as Secretary of State before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary House Appropriations Committee to talk about redirecting American foreign policy, refocusing the aid budgets, and reforming institutions.

Secretary Christopher at that time said that “American foreign policy in the years ahead will be grounded in what President Clinton has called the three “pillars” of our national interest:¬† first, revitalizing our economy; second, updating our¬† security forces for a new era; and, third, protecting democracy as the¬† best means to protect our own national security while expanding the¬† reach of freedom, human rights, prosperity, and peace.” ¬†He talked about Saddam Hussein, “If the lawlessness of [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein has taught us any single lesson, it is that weapons of mass destruction, especially when combined¬† with missile technology, can transform a petty tyrant into a threat to world peace and stability.” Secretary Christopher talked about the State Department budget, “It will be a tough budget for tough times.¬† It will be a flexible budget that seeks austerity, not as a¬†hardship to be endured but as a challenge to innovate and do our job¬† better.¬† Above all, we hope that this budget will mark a transitional step to a truly focused budget that sets priorities and puts resources¬†behind them.”

Oh, brother where are ya?

In February 1993, Secretary Christopher also sent a ¬†message to State Department employees on the¬†Implementation Directive on Reorganization. ¬†Two months into the Trump Administration, and days after the OMB released Trump’s “skinny budget” we have yet to hear from Secretary Tillerson on where the State Department go from here. ¬†We know that he supports the budget cuts for his department, and he has made no public effort of defending the funding and programs for his agency but the top diplomat of the United States still has not articulated the foreign policy priorities of this administration. If Secretary Tillerson has sent a message to his troops in Foggy Bottom, we have yet to hear about it or its contents.

The proposed FY18 budget slashes the international affairs budget by 28% or 36% with Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding factored in.  If passed by Congress, what happens to That Three-Legged Stool of American Foreign Policy?  As diplomacy and development will be hobbled by cuts, are we going to see an exponential growth in private contractors in support of DOD, diplomacy and development? Or are we going to just see staffing gaps and reduced diplomatic footprints from Algeria to Zimbabwe?

In Tillerson’s recent interview with IJR, he said about the State Department budget that¬†‚ÄúOne can say it‚Äôs not going to happen in one year, and it‚Äôs not.”

He’s right. ¬†The cuts may happen this year, and next year, and every fiscal year thereafter. ¬†It sounds to us like an “American First” foreign policy does not see much use for diplomacy. ¬†So we expect that the State Department budget will continue to be targeted during the entire Trump term. But if history is any indication, the decisions made today will have repercussions for our country down the road. Back in 1993, Secretary Christopher said, “when the time eventually comes to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Libya, the money and personnel for those posts probably will have to come out of existing resources, officials said, thus increasing the pressure to close marginal posts elsewhere.” In 1996, the then¬†Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director¬†John D. Holum warned that the agency “no longer has a U.S. technical expert assigned to the U.N. weapons inspection team in Iraq.” ¬†

With the exception of Iran, we are back in Iraq, and Somalia, and we know what happened in Libya. ¬†We don’t grow diplomats overnight. Expertise and diplomatic muscle grow with time, with every assignment, with every challenge. What happens when the next crisis erupts in Asia? Can we just pluck diplomats and development experts from the OPM growth chamber? ¬†Or are we going to have a civilian surge once more with¬†diplomats lacking experience and language skills thrown into a pit and then expected to do an effective job?

Remember, do you remember?

We should note that the Democrats had control of the House and the Senate after the 1992 elections but the midterm elections in 1994 resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives for the GOP, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate. That was the Gingrich Revolution.  By the way, R.C. Hammond who previously served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich (a vocal Trump ally) is now a communications adviser for Secretary Tillerson.

WaPo reported that between 1993-1996 “the State Department has cut more than 2,000 employees and shuttered consulates in 26 foreign cities. The Agency for International Development (AID), which runs foreign aid programs, has been hit especially hard by the Republican-controlled Congress and has closed 23 missions overseas.”

In 1995, according to NYT: The U.S. ambassadors to Italy, France, Britain, Spain, the E.U., Germany, Russia and NATO reportedly got together and sent a secret cable to Secretary Christopher, signed by all of them, telling him that the “delivery system” of U.S. foreign policy was being destroyed by budget cuts. They pleaded with him to mobilize those constituencies in the U.S. that value the work of embassies, and volunteered to come to Washington to testify before Congress in their defense. The ambassadors got a polite note back from Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott, telling them he understood their concerns but that there was a new mood in Congress. There was no invitation to testify.

The State Department at that time reportedly¬†also promoted the concept of “diplomatic readiness,” similar to military readiness, “in hopes of persuading Congress to divert some money from the defense budget into diplomacy and foreign aid — activities that, in the diplomats’ view, save money over time by reducing the need for military actions.”

More than 100 businesses, trade associations, law firms and volunteer groups did¬†organize a “Campaign to Preserve U.S. Global Leadership” without much success.

And this despite the fact that a 1994 GAO study indicates that¬†only 38 percent of the U.S. government personnel in embassies work for the State Department, while 36 percent work for the Pentagon, 5 percent for Justice and 3 percent for Transportation. The other 18 percent includes representatives of the Treasury, Agriculture and Commerce departments. ¬†We don’t know what is the current breakdown of federal agencies operating overseas under the State Department umbrella but if the Trump Administration¬†starts turning off the lights in Africa, or Asia for instance, that could also prove problematic for the Pentagon.

What a 27% budget cut looked like for the international affairs budget?

By Fall 1995, the State Department released a Q&A on the¬†International Affairs Budget–A Sound Investment in Global Leadership. ¬†It includes the following:

Q. Since most Americans favor reducing government spending to balance the federal budget, have the State Department and other foreign affairs  agencies done anything to cut costs?

A. Yes, the Administration has done a great deal to cut costs. We have already:

— Cut the foreign assistance budget request by 20%;

–Trimmed more than 1,100 jobs at the State Department and 600 jobs at ¬†the U.S. Information Agency (USIA);

–Identified, for elimination by 1997, about 2,000 jobs at the U.S. ¬†Agency for International Development (USAID);

–Decreased administrative and overhead costs by $100 million; and

–Closed, or scheduled for closing, 36 diplomatic or consular posts, 10¬†USIA posts, and 28 USAID missions abroad.

OVERSEAS POSTS CLOSED, 1993-96 Consulates, consulates general and State Department branch offices: Algeria Austria Australia Brazil Colombia Egypt France Germany Indonesia Italy (2) Kenya Martinique Mexico Nigeria Philippines Poland Somalia Spain Switzerland (2) Turkey Thailand (2) Venezuela Zaire Embassies Antigua and Barbuda Comoros Equatorial Guinea Seychelles Solomon Islands. AID missions Afghanistan Argentina Belize Botswana Burkina Faso Cameroon Cape Verde Caribbean region Chad Chile Costa Rica Estonia Ivory Coast Lesotho Oman Pakistan South Pacific Switzerland Thailand Togo Tunisia Uruguay Zaire (via)

According to WaPo in 1996, USAID’s overall work force “has been reduced from 11,500 to 8,700 and is heading down to 8,000. The number of full “sustainable development missions” — on-site teams promoting long-term diversified economic development — declined from 70 at the start of the administration to 30.”

That’s what a 27% budget cut inflected on the international affairs budget did in the 90’s.

By 1999, with the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and the United States Information Agency (USIA) were both abolished and folded into the State Department.

Who ya gonna call?

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell was recently quoted saying, “America being a force is a lot more than building up the Defense Department. Diplomacy is important, extremely important, and I don’t think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate.”

According to the Washington Examiner, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn ¬†apparently signaled that¬†President Trump’s initial proposed budget “won’t dictate how the State Department gets funded.”¬†“The president’s budget goes in the waste basket as soon as it gets here,”¬†he said.

We should note that in the 1990s, both houses of Congress (GOP) and a White House under a Democrat worked together to slashed the State Department budget. It was not a question of how much to cut, but where to cut. ¬†This time around, we have a Republican Congress and a Republican White House, but while the WH is gunning for these cuts, the Senate particularly, appears not to be quite on board with the slash and burn cuts. ¬†Still, we are reminded what¬†former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Stephen J. Ledogar (1990-1997) noted¬†in his oral history (PDF) — that “Not very many people will admit this, but the administration bowing to Congress on those consolidations was part of the price that was paid by the Clinton administration to Jesse Helms in exchange for him agreeing to let the Chemical Weapons Convention go through the Senate.”¬†

So … while there are differences in the circumstances during the budget cuts in the 1990’s and the proposed budget cuts in the current and FY18 fiscal years, we are mindful how things can change with the right carrots.




WH/OMB Releases FY2018 Budget Blueprint – @StateDept/@USAID Hit With 28% Funding Cuts

Posted: 2:14 am ET


WaPo posted a copy of President Trump’s budget proposal for FY2018 which OMB calls “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”. Important to note that this is a proposal and that Congress has ultimate control over government funding. We’ll have to wait and see what Congress will do with this request and which cabinet secretary will decline the funds if the Hill insists on the agency/agencies getting more money than the Trump request.¬†We’ve extracted the 2-page relevant to the State Department below:

The Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the¬†Department of the Treasury‚Äôs International Programs help to advance the national security¬†interests of the United States by building a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world.¬†The Budget for the Department of State and USAID diplomatic and development activities¬†is being refocused on priority strategic objectives and renewed attention is being placed on¬†the appropriate U.S. share of international spending. In addition, the Budget seeks to reduce¬†or end direct funding for international organizations whose missions do not substantially¬†advance U.S. foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well‚ÄĒmanaged. Additional¬†steps will be taken to make the Department and USAID leaner, more efÔ¨Ācient, and more¬†effective. These steps to reduce foreign assistance free up funding for critical priorities here¬†at home and put America Ô¨Ārst.

The President’s 2018 Budget requests $25.6 billion in base funding for the Department of State and USAID, a $10.1 billion or 28 percent reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget also requests $12.0 billion as Overseas Contingency Operations funding for extraordinary costs, primarily in war areas like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for an agency total of $37.6 billion. The 2018 Budget also requests $1.5 billion for Treasury International Programs, an $803 million or 35 percent reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level.

The President’s 2018 Budget:

‚ě°¬†Maintains robust funding levels for embassy security and other core diplomatic activities while¬†implementing efÔ¨Āciencies. Consistent with the Benghazi Accountability Review Board recommendation, the Budget applies $2.2 billion toward new embassy construction and maintenance¬†in 2018. Maintaining adequate embassy security levels requires the efficient and effective use¬†of available resources to keep embassy employees safe.

‚ě°¬†Provides $3.1 billion to meet the security assistance commitment to Israel, currently at an all-time high; ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats and maintain its¬†Qualitative Military Edge.

‚ě°¬†Eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and fulÔ¨Ālls the President‚Äôs pledge to cease¬†payments to the United Nations‚Äô (UN) climate change programs by eliminating U.S. funding¬†related to the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds.

‚ě°¬†Provides sufÔ¨Ācient resources on a path to fulÔ¨Āll the $1 billion U.S. pledge to Gavi, the Vaccine¬†Alliance. This commitment helps support Gavi to vaccinate hundreds of millions of children in¬†low-resource countries and save millions of lives.

‚ě°¬†Provides sufÔ¨Ācient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels¬†on HIV/AIDS treatment under the President‚Äôs Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and¬†maintains funding for malaria programs. The Budget also meets U.S. commitments to the Global¬†Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria by providing 33 percent of projected contributions from¬†all donors, consistent with the limit currently in law.

‚ě°¬†Shifts some foreign military assistance from grants to loans in order to reduce costs for the U.S.¬†taxpayer, while potentially allowing recipients to purchase more American-made weaponry with¬†U.S. assistance, but on a repayable basis.

‚ě°¬†Reduces funding to the UN and afÔ¨Āliated agencies, including UN peacekeeping and other international organizations, by setting the expectation that these organizations rein in costs and that¬†the funding burden be shared more fairly among members. The amount the U.S. would contribute to the UN budget would be reduced and the U.S. would not contribute more than 25 percent¬†for UN peacekeeping costs.

‚ě°¬†Refocuses economic and development assistance to countries of greatest strategic importance to¬†the U.S. and ensures the effectiveness of U.S. taxpayer investments by rightsizing funding across¬†countries and sectors.

‚ě°¬†Allows for signiÔ¨Ācant funding of humanitarian assistance, including food aid, disaster, and refugee program funding. This would focus funding on the highest priority areas while asking the¬†rest of the world to pay their fair share. The Budget eliminates the Emergency Refugee and¬†Migration Assistance account, a duplicative and stovepiped account, and challenges international and non-governmental relief organizations to become more efÔ¨Ācient and effective.

‚ě°Reduces funding for the Department of State‚Äôs Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE)¬†Programs. ECE resources would focus on sustaining the Ô¨āagship Fulbright Program, which¬†forges lasting connections between Americans and emerging leaders around the globe.

‚ě°¬†Improves efÔ¨Āciency by eliminating overlapping peacekeeping and security capacity building efforts and duplicative contingency programs, such as the Complex Crises Fund. The Budget also¬†eliminates direct appropriations to small organizations that receive funding from other sources¬†and can continue to operate without direct Federal funds, such as the East-West Center.

‚ě°¬†Recognizes the need for State and USAID to pursue greater efÔ¨Āciencies through reorganization¬†and consolidation in order to enable effective diplomacy and development.

‚ě°¬†Reduces funding for multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, by approximately $650 million over three years compared to commitments made by the previous administration.¬†Even with the proposed decreases, the U.S. would retain its current status as a top donor while¬†saving taxpayer dollars.

Read the document in full:


Lonesome Rex to Make Inaugural Trip to Asia Without His Traveling Press?

Posted: 2:37 am ET


Secretary Tillerson knew when he took this job that he would be the face and the voice of America to the world. That includes talking to the press, and more importantly answering questions from the press corps. We get that he’s new at this but he better get it together fast; he’s now one of our most prominent public servants, and he cannot continue to evade the press and avoid answering questions without running afoul of¬†one of his three core principles.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell¬†¬†has now been escorted twice out of¬†a State Department presser.¬†Reporters were also previously escorted out during the¬†Lavrov-Tillerson meeting in Germany. We betcha when¬†Secretary Tillerson starts talking to the press, reporters would¬†not have to shout their questions during every 30-second photo-op. And now, we’re hearing that Secretary Tillerson is making his inaugural trip to Asia next week. He will be traveling with the new Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the EAP Bureau¬†Susan Thornton who assumed post after¬†Danny Russel’s recent departure. ¬†According to the State Department, Secretary Tillerson will arrive in Tokyo on March 15, continue on to Seoul on March 17, and travel to Beijing on March 18 — ¬†apparently without his traveling press.

Here is the official word on this according to the acting @StateDept spox, Mark Toner:

[W]ith respect to the trip to Asia, we‚Äôre still working out the logistics, so I really can‚Äôt say specifically or speak definitively, I guess, as to whether we will be able to accommodate any press on the Secretary‚Äôs plane. I think we‚Äôre all aware that it is a smaller plane for this particular trip. There will, as you know, going to ‚Äď there will be some U.S. media who will be traveling to the destinations, each destination, and of course, we will do our utmost to support them at those destinations and provide whatever access we can. ¬†And I think going forward, the State Department is doing everything it can to ‚Äď and will do everything it can to accommodate a contingent of traveling media on board the Secretary‚Äôs plane.

Wait, Secretary Tillerson’s minders did not purposely select a smaller plane, did they? ¬†The smaller plane excuse would only really work¬†had¬†Secretary Tillerson traveled with the¬†full press during his trips to Mexico and Germany, then say, hey, can’t this time because we’re forced to use a¬†smaller plane. But in Mexico, Secretary¬†Tillerson reportedly only traveled with press pools,¬†took a small plane and had one writer and one photographer. So this is starting to look like this could be the new normal. ¬†If he can get away with not taking his traveling press this time, are we looking at¬†our top¬†diplomat ditching the press for good in the future? ¬†This is, of course,¬†worrisome coz how are we going to Make America Great Again if we can’t even provide¬†a good size plane for our chief diplomat¬†and his traveling press?

Folks, this doesn’t look good. You need to make this right. And¬†hey,¬†about the milkbox, does he have a favorite color?


In Disaster News, Trump Budget Seeks 37% Funding Cut For @StateDept and @USAID

Posted: 2:25 am  ET



Ex-CIA Sabrina de Sousa Granted Partial Pardon by Italian President Mattarella

Posted: 2:19 am  ET


We’ve¬†followed¬†the case of Sabrina de Sousa in this blog since 2009. She previously worked as an FSO for the State Department from 1998 to 2009. In a July 2013 interview with McClatchyDC, Ms. De Sousa confirmed that she worked under cover for the CIA in Milan, Italy.


According to the Guardian, the office of Italian President Sergio Mattarella issued¬†a statement late Tuesday saying that De Sousa had been granted a partial pardon. It means a reduction of her four-year sentence of detention by one year. ¬†The statement cited by media reports indicate that De Sousa “would be able to serve her sentence with ‚Äúalternative measures‚ÄĚ to detention, meaning that she could avoid spending any time in jail.”


“America First” Budget Targets @StateDept Funding ( Just 1% of Total Federal Budget)

Posted: 3:13 am  ET


We recently posted about the Trump budget for FY2018 that will reportedly proposed funding cuts of up to 30% for the State Department (see¬†¬†With @StateDept Facing a 30% Funding Cut, 121 Generals Urge Congress to Fully Fund Diplomacy and Foreign¬†Aid;¬†@StateDept Budget Could Be Cut By As Much as 30% in Trump‚Äôs First Budget¬†Proposal?;¬†@StateDeptbudge Special Envoy Positions Could Be in Trump‚Äôs Chopping Block ‚ÄĒ Which¬†Ones?).¬†We understand that this number could actually be closer to 40%, which is simply bananas, by the way. ¬†It would be ‘must-see’ teevee¬†if Secretary Tillerson appears before the House and Senate committees to justify the deep cuts in programs, foreign aid, diplomatic/consular posts, embassy security, staffing, training, or why we’re keeping just half the kitchen sink. Just a backgrounder, below is the budget request composition for FY2016:



Previous posts on FS funding:


On February 27, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney showed up at the WH Press Briefing to talk about President Trump’s budget. ¬†Before you are all up in arms, he said that what we’re talking about right now is “not a full-blown budget” which apparently will not come until May. ¬†So this “blueprint” does not include mandatory spending, entitlement reforms, tax policies, revenue projections, or the infrastructure plan and he called this a “topline number only.” Agencies are given¬†48 hours to respond to OMB (holy camarba!). Excerpt below from his talk¬†at the¬†James S. Brady Briefing Room:

As for what it is, these are the President’s policies, as reflected in topline discretionary spending. ¬†To that end, it is a true America-first budget. ¬†It will show the President is keeping his promises and doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he ran for office. ¬†It prioritizes rebuilding the military, including restoring our nuclear capabilities; protecting the nation and securing the border; enforcing the laws currently on the books; taking care of vets; and increasing school choice. ¬†And it does all of that without adding to the currently projected FY 2018 deficit.

The top line defense discretionary number is $603 billion. ¬†That’s a $54-billion increase — it’s one of the largest increases in history. ¬†It’s also the number that allows the President to keep his promise to undo the military sequester. ¬†The topline nondefense number will be $462 billion. ¬†That’s a $54-billion savings. ¬†It’s the largest-proposed reduction since the early years of the Reagan administration.

The reductions in nondefense spending follow the same model — it’s the President keeping his promises and doing exactly what he said he was going to do. ¬†It reduces money that we give to other nations, it reduces duplicative programs, and it eliminates programs that simply don’t work.

The bottom line is this: ¬†The President is going to protect the country and do so in exactly the same way that every American family has had to do over the last couple years, and that’s prioritize spending.

The schedule from here — these numbers will go out to the agencies today in a process that we describe as passback. ¬†Review from agencies are due back to OMB over the course of the next couple days, and we’ll spend the next week or so working on a final budget blueprint. ¬†We expect to have that number to Congress by March 16th. ¬†That puts us on schedule for a full budget — including all the things I mentioned, this one does not include — with all the larger policy issues in the first part of May.


Q ¬† ¬†But we’re not talking about 2 or 3 percent — we’re talking about double-digit reductions, and that’s a lot.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY: ¬†There’s going to be a lot of programs that — again, you can expect to see exactly what the President said he was going to do. ¬†Foreign aid, for example — the President said we’re going to spend less money overseas and spend more of it here. ¬†That’s going to be reflected in the number we send to the State Department.

Q ¬† ¬†Thank you very much. ¬†One quick follow on foreign aid. ¬†That accounts for less than 1 percent of overall spending. ¬†And I just spoke with an analyst who said even if you zero that out, it wouldn’t pay for one year of the budget increases that are being proposed right now. ¬†So how do you square that amount? ¬†So why not tackle entitlements, which are the biggest driver, especially when a lot of Republicans over the years have said that they need to be taxed?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY: ¬†Sure. ¬†On your foreign aid, it’s the same answer I just gave, which is, yes, it’s a fairly part of the discretionary budget, but it’s still consistent with what the President said. ¬†When you see these reductions, you’ll be able to tie it back to a speech the President gave or something the President has said previously. ¬†He’s simply going to — we are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars. ¬†So we will be spending less overseas and spending more back home.


See three separate threads on Twitter with some discussion of the proposed cuts.


With @StateDept Facing a 30% Funding Cut, 121 Generals Urge Congress to Fully Fund Diplomacy and Foreign Aid

Posted: 1:49 pm  ET


So last night, an unnamed Senior Administration Official told reporters that Trump’s first budget will include $54 billion in additional funds to the Pentagon, and as much as 30% cut to the State Department budget (see@StateDept Budget Could Be Cut By As Much as 30% in Trump‚Äôs First Budget¬†Proposal?).¬†Additional reporting indicates that the administration¬†will also seek an additional $30 billion in supplemental defense appropriations for the FY 2017 year.

Today, 121 retired U.S. generals and admirals urged Congress to fully fund U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid. They write:

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‚Äôs way. As Secretary James Mattis said while Commander of U.S. Central Command, ‚ÄúIf you don‚Äôt fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.‚ÄĚ The military will lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield, but it needs strong civilian partners in the battle against the drivers of extremism‚Äď lack of opportunity, insecurity, injustice, and hopelessness.

We recognize that America‚Äôs strategic investments in diplomacy and development ‚Äď like all of U.S. investments ‚Äď must be effective and accountable. Significant reforms have been undertaken since 9/11, many of which have been embodied in recent legislation in Congress with strong bipartisan support ‚Äď on human trafficking, the rights of women and girls, trade and energy in Africa, wildlife trafficking, water, food security, and transparency and accountability.

We urge you to ensure that resources for the International Affairs Budget keep pace with the growing global threats and opportunities we face. Now is not the time to retreat.

The letter is addressed to Congressional leaders Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer with courtesy copies to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

Read the full letter below.


@StateDept Budget Could Be Cut By As Much as 30% in Trump’s First Budget Proposal?

Posted: 3:40 am  ET


Via Bloomberg:

Trump’s first major fiscal marker will land in the agencies one day before his first address to a joint session of Congress.¬†[…]¬†The Pentagon is due for a huge boost, as Trump promised during the campaign. But many nondefense agencies and foreign aid programs are facing cuts, including at the State Department. The specific numbers aren’t final and agencies will have a chance to argue against the cuts as part of a longstanding tradition at the budget office.

Note that in fiscal year 2016, the Pentagon has had nearly $600 billion at its disposal. According to Newsweek, that’s twice the size of the defense budget before the 9/11 attacks and more than 10 times the amount the State Department received for diplomacy. For fiscal year 2017, then President Obama had asked Congress to increase Pentagon spending by $22 billion, while his State Department request has remained flat, at $50 billion.  And now, potentially a 30% cut? We hope to have a follow up post when we have further details.


That #SwedenIncident ūüėß–America First, Sweden Second–Listen, But Don’t ‘Bomb Ikea’

Posted: 2:19 am  ET