Congressional Hearing Review: FY 2011

Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing today about “U.S. Policies and Programs for Global Development: USAID and the FY 2011 Budget Request.” Needless to say, USAID did not have a budget to request, which was mentioned in Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s opening statement. I have come to learn that Washington, D.C. is more of circus entertainment, rather than a conglomeration of competent individuals who actually have to serve the public’s needs and interests.

So, without an actual budget to base the hearing on, the questions were vague, long-winded, and uninformative. Nevertheless, Dr. Shah, Administrator of USAID, stated that “investments for future peace and prosperity” are directly related to “national security.” Seeming as if government uses “national security” as a crutch to explain all of its fiscal bastardization, Chairman Berman reaffirmed that “diplomacy and development” were key attributed to the transforming foreign policy of the new administration. Although the American people have to see this actual transformation, it’s a step somewhere, to say the least.

Chairman Berman opened up the hearing by reminding everyone in the room that “we help those around the world because it is the moral and right thing to do.” I think so too, so long as it doesn’t come at the price of Americans who can’t afford it and do so to their voluntary will.

When Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen spoke, she reminded us that the United States is borrowing $4 Billion per day just to keep the government temporarily functioning and away from complete or partial collapse. She also affirmed that having other states grow dependent on our aid is bad for the economy and for international diplomacy. Suggesting that private funding is a more practical alternative, the Congresswoman stressed that this must be done “without creating a dependency from other countries.” She wanted to “unleash creativity” rather than deal with “large scale bureaucracies,” and “help the impoverished become self-sustaining.”

After her words echoed through the room, they seem to have been disregarded by waves of irresponsible altruism as Dr. Shah spoke of promoting USAID to being “the world premier Development Agency.” In a world where the U.S. dollar and fiscal responsibility is comparable to that of 16th century Spain, perhaps altruism and international aid is not what should be prioritized at this moment. Or perhaps USAID should exist solely from the voluntary donations of private citizens. No, government would rather control your fiscal expenditures.

Dr. Shah spoke of three goals that USAID needs to complete for Fiscal Year 2011. First, USAID must secure critical frontline states such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. What does this mean? It means the U.S. is going to continue intervening in the domestic and internal developments of other states until we make enemies of them as well.

What the USAID and many Congressmen do not realize is that for every moment in history that we have tapped into the internal development of regions, people of these states or regions have backfired or resulted in blowback. Helping people in the Philippines in the early 20th Century brought an insurrection against us a few years later. “Liberating” Cuba from Spain in the Spanish-American War gave us Communist Cuba that we refuse to negotiate or trade with today.

Sending aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War resulted in our invasion of his country. Aiding the Taliban against the Russians helped empower Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Yet, for some reason, these national leaders speak proudly of America’s generosity, just never when it has to do with the citizens’ private generosity. 

It was also noted that Stuart Bowen, the General Inspector, has $4 Billion of federal funds unaccounted for in Iraq in addition to 14,000 small arms that have went missing in Afghanistan and have landed in the hands of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Stuart Bowen has been Inspector General since 2004.

Fiscal Year 2011, good luck to you. 

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