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Rice Intl. Aff. Budget Request for Fiscal Year '07


International Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2007


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Opening Remarks Before the Senate Budget Committee
Washington, DC
February 16, 2006

(10:05 a.m. EST)


Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator Gregg. Thank you, Senator Conrad and members of the Committee. I have a longer statement, which I would like to enter into the record, but I will not subject us to a reading of that statement so that we can have full time for discussion and for questions.

I would like just in lieu of reading the statement to make just a few points and then, of course, to take your questions. It's been a little over a year since I was confirmed as the Secretary of State and it has been a very eventful year. It is a time of great and historic change. It is a time when the United States and its friends are meeting multiple challenges across the globe. If I could start where you began, Senator Gregg, September 11th really was a crack in time. It changed our security priorities. It changed our thinking about what makes a secure America when we were attacked in that brutal way on that September day.

The challenge for the United States is, of course, to use all of our means of national power -- our military power, our economic power, our diplomatic strength, our influence around the world -- of course, to defeat the terrorist threat that so brutally attacked us, but recognizing that we are not going to be able to have a permanent peace to pass on to other generations. I think we recognize also that the degree to which we can leave a world that is more democratic, more free, more prosperous, where there are not failed states of the kind that Afghanistan became, which led directly to terrorist training camps in which people trained to attack us from; the more that we recognize that the incapacity of states to govern, to control their borders, to fight terrorists themselves, endangers us.

The President's Budget is a budget that is in support of those national security goals and I have said to my colleagues, to your colleagues on Senate Foreign Relations yesterday, that I think we should think of our assistance programs as national security spending because without a robust effort by the Department of State on the diplomatic side, on the foreign assistance side, on bringing well-governed democratic states alongside us, we will not be able to protect ourselves in the long term.

This budget therefore is a budget that is in support of the tremendous democratic transition that is going on in the world in places like Iraq where clearly there is a struggle for the creation of a stable and democratic Iraq, but the struggle that they are embarked on is far preferable to the false stability of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, who threatened us all, threatened his neighbors, had caused two wars in the region.

Afghanistan, which as I said before, was a failed state that directly produced al-Qaida and its attacks. Of course, countries like Jordan and Pakistan that are in the front lines of the fight on terrorism with us. And we have seen in places like the Palestinian territories that democratic processes are always not very predictable and at some point I can speak to the issue of the election that brought Hamas to power. Obviously, this will have an effect on American assistance. We've made very clear that we cannot fund a Palestinian government unless that government is devoted to Israel's right to exist, to denouncing terror and to indeed disarmament.

This budget also recognizes that we have other major challenges in the areas of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and prevention of that. I announced yesterday that we will be asking in a supplemental request for an additional $75 million for democracy programs in Iran. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that we face is the policy of the Iranian regime, which is a policy of destabilization of the world's most volatile and vulnerable region. And it's not just Iran's nuclear program but also their support for terrorism around the world. They are, in effect, the central banker for terrorism around the world. They are also, of course, going 180 degrees away from the way that this region should be going in terms of human rights and democracy for their own people.

We are obviously -- we've worked very hard to create a coalition of states that will confront Iran's aggressive policies, particularly its nuclear program. We've had some success in that and we are now in the UN Security Council to address that problem. But I think it's worth noting that we will not be able to address the Iranian nuclear program and problem in a vacuum; it is Iran's regional policies that really are concerning as we watch them, with their sidekick Syria, destabilizing places like Lebanon and the Palestinian territories and indeed even in southern Iraq.

So there's recognition of those matters in this budget. There is also recognition of America's desire to continue to be a compassionate nation. We have led the world, of course, when there have been humanitarian disasters, when there has been a need to deal with the world's most vulnerable populations through refugee assistance or food assistance, and that is represented in this budget.

And finally, and this is to speak, in part, to Senator Conrad's concern, we are, Senator, very aware of the pressures on this budget and we're very aware of the pressures on the American people, the American taxpayers' dollars to fund the significant program that we need to secure ourselves through diplomatic means. As a result, when -- coming to the State Department we've launched a number of reform initiatives to try and make certain that we are better stewards of the American peoples' taxpayer dollars, that we are not engaging in duplicative activities, that we are engaging in activities that are effective.

I would just cite two of those reforms, which we've put under the title of transformational diplomacy. On the one hand, I have asked for and received a plan for global repositioning of our diplomatic presence. It seemed to me that some now, almost 15 years after the end of the Cold War, we were rather heavy in parts of the world where we had traditionally had large presences, in Europe, for instance, and rather light in places that are really growing in influence: Brazil, China, India, other places in Latin America and, indeed, in Africa.

We have to put our people increasingly in very difficult hardship posts where they cannot take family with them. And so I want to make sure that our people are well treated. But we are moving our diplomats around. We've repositioned 100 people. I have asked for further repositioning plans to do more of this. I'm asking in this budget that we do create 285 new positions, but those positions also for transformational posts, but also for very important security measures that we must take and also for work that we need to do in critical language acquisition. We are just simply very short of people who can use Arabic effectively or Farsi effectively in the places that we really are meeting the threats.

The other aspect of transformational diplomacy is that I am -- we're working very hard for foreign assistance reform. We believe that we must realign better the somewhat 80 percent of the foreign assistance budget that resides in USAID and State so that we are certain that we are meeting the objectives of building -- of course, addressing the concerns and the needs of the world's most vulnerable people, but also building state capacity to address those concerns. We don't want our foreign assistance program to be a kind of permanent dependency for countries. We really want them to be able to take on their own problems. And if you fund countries that are corrupt, if you fund countries that are unreformed, then they are going to be permanently dependant because they can't govern wisely.

And so through foreign assistance reform, we hope to be able to use the precious dollars that we receive better to make sure that we are not duplicating efforts, to make sure that we're spending on the highest priority items. I have proposed that there would be a Director of Foreign Assistance reporting directly to me who would also be the USAID Administrator so that we can get synergies between our various programs.

Finally, we are requesting for the Millennium Challenge Account $3 billion this year. And I know that there have been questions about how rapidly the Millennium Challenge program has gotten up and running. I can go through some of the numbers later. But let me say that I think this is really, in many ways, our flagship program, the President's flagship program, to change the way that recipient countries think about their responsibilities as they receive our foreign assistance dollars.

These countries are countries that are governing wisely, that are investing in their people, that are fighting and rooting out corruption and that we think are the lead edge of responsible sovereign states that can not only do better for their people, but be contributing states to a safer and more secure world.

Thank you very much.

2006/199

Released on February 16, 2006

ENDS


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