Friday, November 04, 2005


War on Terrorism and Congress

America's funding of the efforts to combat extremism and terrorism took a bit of a funding hit this week. In this era of high federal debt and growing financial obligations lawmakers are making every effort to reduce the pressures of budget deficits on the economic solvency and security of the United States. Both chambers of Congress have approved tens of billions of dollars in cuts of discretionary spending for the next five years. Among some of the programs impacted by these cuts in the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the State Department's Antiterrorism Training Assistance program.

While I applaud Congress' efforts to reduce the country's fiscal deficit I am disappointed two low profile yet essential national security programs are being targeted for funding cuts. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an agency with the mission of distributing American foreign aid only to countries engaging in serious political reform aimed at reaching appropriate levels of good governance. More than any other factor, I believe the absence of good, transparent governance contributes to so much human suffering in the world. While their is certainly a fair amount of suffering and trouble in country's featuring the characteristic's of good governance, I don't think its too far a stretch to say those countries without good, accountable governance are far less capable of protecting the rights and ensuring the tools of self determination are provided to their people.

By reducing the funding levels of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Congress is reducing the amount of assistance the US is willing to provide countries making the difficult and necessary reforms to improve their quality of governance. Its sending the message that the spread of quality governance around the world is less of a priority. Its is my opinion the US should be enabling reform and good governance rather than turning its back on those in need of assistance to make the transition to quality governance. While not a "silver bullet" to all of the threats out there, the nurturing of quality governance around the world is an important component to US national security.

On the less theoretical, more tangible side of the US national security strategy, cuts in funding for the State Department's Antiterrorism Training assistance Program is another disappointing development. The US can't be everywhere at all times, and enlisting other global players in the war against terrorism is an essential element to victory. This is one of the best tools for national security professionals to assist in the training of counter-terrorism forces in countries wishing to help fight against extremism. Not to mention it helps establish a diplomatic bridge with these countries that can extend benefits in the realms of trade and intelligence sharing as well.

Self sufficiency, independence good governance. Encouraging these ideals will go a long way to combating the threats posed to the United States and will also help other countries and other people of the world ensure a better future for themselves. Cuts in these two programs works against the best interests of the United States and the rest of people so badly in need of freedom.

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