Media Advocacy: Don't cut foreign aid (update)
Update: A version of Betsy's letter was published in the Miami Herald on Sunday, February 20, 2011.
Betsy Suero Skipp submitted this letter to the editor of the Miami Herald. Her letter is in response to Andres Oppenheimer's editorial: "U.S. aid cuts could be 'diplomatic suicide'". Betsy Suero Skipp is a local Miami activist with Bread for the World, ONE Campaign, and USGLC. She is also a Guardian Ad Litem for the state of Florida.
I thank Mr. Oppenheimer for his timely article, “Aid cuts could be diplomatic suicide” (2/13/11). We must change the misleading and negative image of U.S. foreign assistance promoted by some members of congress and educate Americans about the vital role of international aid and diplomacy in making the world a healthier, safer, place. Investing in democracy, development, and diplomacy is essential for our national security, and directly serves our domestic economic interests. America’s fastest growing markets are in developing countries. Our foreign aid will fuel American jobs to through trade and new markets.
We have to look no further than the events unfolding rapidly around the Middle East to conclude that now is not the time to reduce, much less abandon, our long-standing leadership in diplomacy and international development. Additionally, we have indisputable statistical living proof that our foreign assistance works - our tax dollars are significantly improving living conditions around the world, engendering good will toward the United States.
In September 2002, President Bush released his Administration’s National Security Strategy, for the first time elevating global development as the third “pillar” of U.S. national security, along with defense and diplomacy; some call this smart power.
One of the best ways to fight terrorism and promote U.S. leadership is through the goals of the National Security Strategy and by fully funding the programs and initiatives that promote economic growth and poverty reduction. Examples include the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the global immunization program the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to end AIDS, TB and Malaria, President Bush's Malaria Initiative, Child Survival, Feed the Future, and other efforts that ease misery among the world’s most vulnerable, while promoting democratization and free market economies.
So what do we make of the conservative cry to cut the entire U.S. foreign aid budget? While Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is understandably alarmed by “an astronomical budget deficit which we are passing on to our grandchildren,” are we then to embrace isolationism and leave our heirs a world in which the U.S. has been reduced to the sidelines in world affairs? Or, do we give the world what it is looking for, leadership?
We urge Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and other members of Congress, not to be penny wise and pound foolish.
Way to go, Besty! If you'd like to write a letter similiar to Besty's, visit Bread's website for resources about media advocacy.
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