Name That Peacenik!
In a speech last week, who said this?
"Consider that this year's budget for the Department of Defense - not counting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - is nearly half a trillion dollars. The total foreign affairs budget request for the State Department is $36 billion - less than what the Pentagon spends on health care alone. "
b) Rep. Dennis Kucinich
c) Bread President David Beckmann
d) Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
If you answered "D" then congratulations. In a speech at Kansas State University last Monday (11/26), Secretary Gates made a strong case for better integrating "soft power" into our strategy to build a safer world. Now don't get me wrong, we are not apologists for the Department of Defense - Gates goes on to say that he is indeed in favor of increased spending on the military. But it is an important signal that even our military now recognizes the common-sense principle that winning hearts and minds requires being a good neighbor. It's not just a moral imperative - it's an important strategic goal in creating a safer world.
The foreign affairs budget number he cites also contains programs that Bread for the World considers "Poverty-Focused Development Assistance" (PFDA). In next year's Offering of Letters campaign, we will be advocating for a boost to PFDA to meet our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. An important step in this process in getting a boost will be to increase the foreign affairs budget (aka International Affairs Budget, or IAB) during the formation of a Congressional budget resolution. We welcome Secretary Gates to this debate.
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