The United States faces a wide range of international challenges, including threats to our national security, economy, environment, and commitment to basic human rights. As the President works to rebuild America’s position in the world, we have tremendous opportunities to establish new partnerships and strengthen old ones that will help us address the challenges of the 21st century.
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development, I am focused on improving the effectiveness of U.S. and multilateral aid programs. Our nation’s security depends on the three Ds: diplomacy, defense and development. It is imperative that our development and foreign assistance programs continue have the resources necessary to carry out their high priority missions.
The U.S. military’s achievements in Afghanistan are a testament to the brave women and men who continue to serve there. However, I remain concerned about the failure to develop and meet important political and civilian milestones. I intend to hold the administration to its word and ensure that we bring our troops home in a timely and honorable manner, beginning in the summer of 2011.
- In Fiscal Year 2010, the federal government spent $39.4 billion on U.S. foreign assistance programs worldwide, 1.1 percent of the total federal budget.
- Less than one-half of 1% of the total federal budget -- approximately .39 percent -- goes to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support critically important development assistance programs worldwide.
- In 2009, USAID responded to 57 disasters in 46 countries. In each case assistance came within 72 hours of the disaster being declared.
- USAID programs have helped eliminate 460,000 acres of illicit narcotics through aerial and manual techniques and helped farmers grow alternative crops.
- Women farmers produce more than half of all the food that is grown in the world, specifically, up to 80 percent in Africa and 60 percent in Asia. Making investments in women and establishing gender equality is an important goal of U.S. foreign assistance.
- Why is development assistance important?
- Our nation has done much to improve the lives of the less fortunate around the world. It is important that the assistance we give to other nations is used transparently and efficiently in order to maximize its benefit. While we need to end programs that are not working well, across-the-board cuts to the international assistance budget, at just 1.7 % of the federal budget, is shortsighted and would harm U.S. national security. Also crucial to our national security is the peace, stability and fundamental human rights around the world, particularly gender equality, and addressing humanitarian and refugee crises in places like Japan, Haiti, Sudan, and D.R. Congo.
- What is the U.S. Helsinki Commission?
- As Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), I have a leading role in the search for common security in Europe and Central Asia. This bipartisan Commission, comprised of nine Senators, nine Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce, looks for ways for the U.S. and its partners to advance comprehensive security through the promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in the 56 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- What does Ben think about US-Israeli Relations?
- Israel is and will always be America’s closest ally in the Middle East. The long-lasting and continued bonds between our two countries run deep. Israel is one of our closest partners in fighting extremism and terrorists in a very dangerous region of the world. I am proud that the United States continues to stand with the people of Israel and that we will do all that is possible to protect our shared values and joint national interests. I support efforts to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace that protects Israel’s right to exist and ensures the security of its citizens, including an Israeli and Palestinian state side-by-side, living in peace and security. I also support continued robust U.S. assistance to Israel to ensure it has the necessary resources to meet the unique threats that it faces. We must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities. A nuclear-armed Iran would be a serious threat to the national security of the U.S. and our allies. I support the use of strong sanctions to pressure the Iranian regime to cease its belligerent behavior and end its nuclear weapons program.