WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday warned Republicans to reverse plans to cut the US foreign aid budget or undermine US efforts to stabilize a North Africa and Middle East in turmoil.
Clinton also told Republican lawmakers that their proposed cuts for 2012 would hurt US efforts to roll back the insurgency in Afghanistan, build a stable, democratic Iraq and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
She highlighted how US diplomacy and the US Agency for International Development are helping to advance US national interests by seeking to end the bloodshed and help civilians in Libya, a major oil producer.
“This is an unfolding example of how we use the combined assets ….of diplomacy, development, and defense to protect American security and interests and advance our values,” Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“It is the most effective — and cost-effective — way to sustain and advance our security across the world. And it is only possible with a budget that supports all the tools in our national security arsenal,” she said.
In Iraq, Clinton said, US diplomats and civilian experts are “poised to keep the peace” after the withdrawal of nearly US 100,000 troops, who cost the United States much more to deploy than civilians.
In Afghanistan, a recent surge in US troops and civilians is paving the way “for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that could end the conflict and put Al-Qaeda on the run,” the chief US diplomat said.
“We have imposed the toughest sanctions to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” she added.
“And we are working to open political systems, economies, and societies at a remarkable moment in the history of the Middle East and to support peaceful, orderly, irreversible democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia,” she said.
“Our progress is significant, but our work is ongoing. These missions are vital to our national security, … and now would be the wrong time to pull back,” Clinton added.
Secretary Clinton: Assessing US Foreign Policy Priorities