Trump Budget Proposes Massive Cuts In Foreign Aid And Diplomacy Programs To Pay For More Weapons

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. officials say the Trump administration is proposing deep cuts in spending for diplomacy and foreign aid programs to help pay for increased military spending.

Officials familiar with the proposal say it calls for slashing 37 percent of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development budgets. Development assistance would take the biggest hit. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the spending plan publicly before it is presented to Congress.

In the current fiscal year, the State Department and USAID got $50.1 billion, a little more than 1 percent of the total federal budget. Officials say a 37-percent cut would likely require reductions in staff, including security contractors at diplomatic missions abroad.

More from CBS News:

More than 120 retired generals are making what may seem like a surprising defense of government spending on diplomacy. Their unified perspective is expressed in letter to congressional leadership and was prompted by an announcement of major cuts to the non-defense budget and a corresponding increase of $54 billion to defense spending.

The generals quoted Defense Secretary James Mattis to illustrate their point that foreign policy is not monolithic, and that diplomacy and defense are equal partners in U.S. policy. “As Secretary James Mattis said while commander of U.S. Central Command, ‘If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.’”

The signatories of this letter disagree that foreign policy should be approached purely as a militaristic endeavor. One signer is Marine Gen. John R. Allen, a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general, former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and 2014-2015 Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL appointed by President Obama.

“Cutting the State Department budget by 30 percent is consigning us to a generational war. We cannot fight our way out of this. It is an issue which can be decided by decisive diplomacy and enlightened development,” General Allen told CBS News.

And from the progressive Common Dreams:

“If this is an effort to put America first, it’s a complete misfire,” said National Priorities Project’s Research Director Lindsay Koshgarian. “America has long been first when it comes to military spending and military strength. But we’re not first when it comes to education, health outcomes, or economic mobility. Those are the areas where we need to invest more. This budget does exactly the opposite.”

The proposal involves cutting domestic spending for programs like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and others. The identified cuts amount to approximately $3 billion – far less than the $54 billion proposed.

“The proposed cuts are not just inadequate to fund the proposed military increase, they’re also ill-advised,” Koshgarian said. “Foreign aid and diplomacy are often understood as simply a humanitarian or charitable endeavor, but it’s far more strategic than that. U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid are carefully targeted to support stability in parts of the world where the U.S. has important safety or national interests. They’re recognized by military leaders as a necessary tool in their toolbox. You can’t solve every problem with a gun.”