Alternatives to War

What our international affairs budget buys us

Most people understand, in a basic sense, that diplomacy and development are important. However, we don’t often hear how agencies like the State Department and USAID are operating around the world in ways that save lives and prevent conflict—and how much good they could do if they had even more resources.

Right now diplomacy and development get less than 10% of what we spend on the military budget and wars. If we are really going to build support for these programs in Congress and the public, we need to understand why they are so crucial to our safety and prosperity, and that of others around the globe.

Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides shared his top 10 things you should know about the State Department and USAID on Huffington Post. A few of the key points:

4. We help to ensure the world is a safer place. Our nonproliferation programs have destroyed dangerous stockpiles of missiles, munitions and the material that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The New START Treaty, negotiated by the State Department and signed by President Obama in 2010, reduced the number of deployed nuclear weapons to levels not seen since the 1950s. And, in 2010, the State Department helped more than 40 countries clear millions of square meters of landmines.

5. We save lives. Our programs that fight disease and hunger reduce the risk of instability abroad and, in return, protect our national security. Strong bipartisan support for U.S. global health investments has led to unparalleled successes in the treatment, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as saved millions from diseases like smallpox and polio.

6. We help countries feed themselves. In the United States, we know agriculture. Building upon what we do best – grow and produce food – we help other countries plant the right seeds in the right way and get crops to markets to feed the most people. Food shortages can lead to riots and starvation, but strong agricultural sectors can lead to stable economies, helping countries become strong U.S. trading partners.

7. We help in times of crisis. After this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, State and USAID sent disaster response experts, nuclear experts and urban search and rescue teams to work assist the government of Japan with meeting immediate needs. Secretary Clinton personally delivered much needed supplies to Chile within hours of a devastating earthquake. From earthquakes in Haiti to famine in the Horn of Africa and devastating fires in Israel, our experienced and talented emergency professionals deliver assistance to those who need it most.

Read the rest here.