At last, words of wisdom from a respected and experienced Republican, Colon Powell, former Army General and Secretary of State. In an Op-Ed piece appearing in the NYT, General Powell states that he has learned plenty about war, but even more about finding peace.
The former Secretary of State believes, from experience and from facts that reducing 30 percent from the State Department and foreign assistance budget leaves a vacuum that makes the United States less safe and less prosperous. This action would be “internationally irresponsible, distressing our friends, encouraging our enemies and undermining our own economic and national security interests.” He goes on to describe how budget cuts after the Cold War looked promising at the time, but proved to exacerbate tensions in the Middle East, Africa and the Korean Peninsula. It is just as important to have well-resourced diplomats and aid workers as it is to have a strong army.
Mr. Powell points out that not since WWII have so many people been displaced fleeing war and instability. The number hovers around 65 million. Fleeing hastily, without adequate preparation leaves as many as 20 million facing starvation. Providing funds for humanitarian assistance to reduce the anguish of those fleeing oppression is a worthy objective for funds provided by the US. Just as importantly, those making budget decisions ought to keep in mind that 95 percent of the word’s consumers exist outside of the US. China, in the mean while, is catering to that percentage of consumers by building railways and highways across Asia and Africa. America cannot isolate itself, nor can it be safe hiding behind its military might only.
Hopefully, members of congress and the house will meditate on the words of a Republican who has made war and peace. Colon Powell has “walked the walk and talked the talk”.