Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The US Congress has cut down budgetary allocations for foreign aid, an act that had caused chagrin on many developmentalist circles across the globe. The bad thing about the allergic congressional aid constriction is that even health research & aid funding for poor countries is also shrinking.

News has come out openly about the voting patterns regarding the subject. It has turned into a bi-partisan pattern, which contrasts to the 20th century pattern whereby Republicans were the exclusive bulwark of anti-foreign aid discourse and action.

For those who aren’t familiar with foreign policy frames in America, the term for that allergy to anything foreign and the drive to focus budgets exclusively on domestic affairs is called Isolationism. Republicans are the most afflicted with that “anything foreign is Bogey Man” fanaticism which explicates the predominance of Isolationism in the US Congress’ House of Representatives.

The trouble with Barak Obama is that he lacks a definitive foreign policy frame. He is perceived as having endorse the whole basket of foreign policy initiatives to Sec. Hillary Clinton who exhibits a definitive foreign policy frame: Wilsonian. That framework posits that America’s negotiations in the diplomacy field must be guided largely by the negotiating country’s observance of civil rights.

Wilsonian frame is largely concentrated in the US Department of State, whereas Isolationism’s bulwark is the US Congress. Neo-Conservatism, dominant during the Bush eras, is largely concentrated in the Defense & Intelligence agencies. Nationalism, a hallmark of trade policies in diplomacy, is concentrated in the Department of Trade.

Isolationism’s zealous return means that all other foreign policy frames are lameduck, and that spells trouble for the development stakeholders across the globe as a whole.

[Philippines, 07 March 2012]
Will Congress ‘starve’ the 2013 foreign aid budget?
By Jenny Lei Ravelo on 29 February 2012
There is notice from Capitol Hill regarding President Barack Obama’s 2013 foreign aid budget request: It is unlikely to be fully funded.
Senators heard U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday (Feb. 28) as she testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Clinton was making the case for the $51.6 billion budget request for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. But Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy from Vermont, who also sits as chairman of the subcommittee, told Clinton it is going to be “difficult” to get a bill through this year, the Washington Post reports.
Clinton spoke of five budget priorities, including support for the democratic transitions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the $770 million Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund. She also made note of America needing to maintain power in the Pacific by building stronger networks and relationships in the region.
In addition, the secretary discussed using diplomacy and development to create American jobs. She said America needs to make strategic investments today to meet its foreign policy goals in the future.
The budget request is likely to face opposition from lawmakers in coming months. While foreign aid is commensurate to the country’s national security and international interests — as history can prove in Colombia and South Korea — it has been a “frequent target” of budget-cutting lawmakers, notes The Foreign Policy Initiative.
Democrat Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts agrees. He said there are no global “Grover Norquists” pushing a pledge not to slash the State Department budget, nor millions of AARP seniors rallying to protect America’s investments overseas.
In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there is nothing “fiscally conservative” in starving the foreign policy budget today to spend a trillion dollars years later in armed conflict. He said all foreign policy initiatives and foreign aid programs account for only one-tenth of America’s annual military expenditure.
“We’ve got a tax code that spans more than 72,000 pages and a federal budget of $3.8 trillion — surely we can find enough tax loopholes to close and wasteful spending to cut in order to preserve the $57 billion required for our global investment,” Kerry said.
Read more:
• 4 points for Clinton’s defense of the foreign aid budget
• US international affairs budget: Requested vs. actual
• Obama’s 2013 foreign aid budget request: The good, the bad and the ugly
• New clues on the future of US aid
• Reform efforts drive fiscal 2013 hiring plans at USAID, State
• Obama’s 2013 budget eyes new fund
• US foreign assistance budget crisis ‘not over’
Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders – emailed to you FREE every business day.

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