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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Opening Statement before the Senate Budget Committee
Washington, D.C., February 11, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

[As Submitted to the Committee]

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, good morning. I am delighted to have the chance to testify before you.

And Mr. Chairman, since you are from New Mexico, you will understand when I say that I have come here today on a modern day version of Coronado's quest. I have come in search of money.

The President's budget includes $22.8 billion for the full range of international affairs programs, and we need every cent.

This Committee--more than most--is comprised of Senators who understand the varied demands of international leadership in our era. You know that, more and more, events overseas have an impact on our citizens here at home--on our security, our jobs, our environment, even the safety of our streets and schools.

You know that the term "foreign aid" has become virtually obsolete in the context of our international affairs programs today. Because when we fight proliferation, drug trafficking, terrorism, disease, and crime--we aid America. The same is true when we work worldwide to open markets, foster democracy and strengthen the rule of law.

Because of the vision of our predecessors, Republican and Democrat alike, our nation was able to enter the new century strong and respected, prosperous and at peace. It is now our responsibility to secure these blessings for future generations of Americans. We cannot do that unless we lead. And we cannot lead without resources.

Most Americans are astonished when I tell them that we devote a smaller percentage of our wealth to assisting overseas development than any other industrialized country. During the past decade, our rate of investment has declined by fifty percent; and over the past half century, by more than ninety.

All this has consequences. It reduces our influence, makes it harder for us to leverage others, and often leaves us trying to do important jobs with a fraction of the money required to get those jobs done right.

The budgets we have had to work with in recent years have had almost zero flexibility. Time after time, urgent needs have arisen and we have gone figuratively to the cupboard, but the cupboard has been bare. Sometimes, we have even gone to the sofa and felt between the cushions for loose change.

Ultimately we have returned to Congress and asked for more help. And to your lasting credit, Congress has almost always come through--often thanks to the leadership of members of this Committee.

But I think we can and should do better. After all, ours is the world's richest and most powerful nation, with important interests on every continent. We have a huge stake in getting out ahead of the curve to shape events, mold opinion, and prevent crises.

Today, we are working overtime to achieve these goals. But I sometimes feel like the Queen in Alice's Wonderland, who said "it takes all the running you can do, just to stay in the same place."

That's why it's so important that, in drafting your budget resolution, you make room for the President's full international affairs request. I say this with the clear knowledge that most of this money will be spent next year, under a new Administration. So my urging has nothing to do with parties or personalities; but it has everything to do with America's interests.

Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to summarize very briefly some of the goals of our international operations and programs and why they matter so much to the well-being of the American people.

First, our programs help make Americans more secure.

The Cold War is over and our nation is strong, but our citizens continue to face grave dangers. These include terrorists, international criminals, regional conflicts and--perhaps most important--the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

That is why our Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative is so important. Since its launch early last decade, it has destroyed almost 5000 nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union; eliminated nuclear weapons from three former Soviet Republics; and engaged 30,000 former Soviet weapons scientists in peaceful ventures. The President is requesting $974 million for the initiative next year.

Today, when America's military is called upon to act, we often do so as part of a coalition. This underlines the value of our security assistance programs, which help friends and allies become more capable.

And it explains our support for international peacekeeping. After all, if we do not want our own armed forces deployed to more and more hot spots abroad, we should work to increase the capacity of others to end conflicts and build peace.

Another area where resources are required is in countering international terror. Through our training and assistance, we help friendly governments improve border security. We gather information to advise and warn Americans. We strive for cooperation that will leave terrorists with no place to run, hide, or conceal their assets. And we do all we can to bring suspected terrorists before the bar of justice

We also oppose terror by protecting the people who work in our diplomatic missions. This has been among my highest priorities, and with congressional help, we have made steady progress. The 1998 Africa embassy bombings lent added urgency to our efforts. And as my written statement describes, the appointment of career law enforcement professional, David Carpenter, as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, has helped us to intensify our security programs on every front.

In addition, the President is requesting more than $1 billion in diplomatic security-related appropriations for 2001, and advance appropriations to keep replacing higher-risk facilities. I ask your support for these essential requests.

A second basic goal of our foreign policy is to support American prosperity. To this end, we consult often with business, farm and labor leaders. We work hard, both here and abroad, to help Americans take advantage of commercial opportunities, to enforce contracts, and fight corruption.

Examples of our work include protecting e-commerce from discriminatory taxes; negotiating civil aviation agreements; and safeguarding intellectual property rights that are worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

In addition, our visa offices enable six million foreign businesspeople, tourists, and others to visit our country each year, while keeping known criminals out. And our exchange programs deepen international understanding while contributing to the $8 billion that foreign students spend annually in college towns across our land.

We also aid American prosperity through our assistance to developing countries, which include many of our fastest-growing markets. USAID and the multilateral development banks are key to our efforts to spur reform, improve governance, and broaden opportunity.

A third major objective of our international affairs programs is peace.

And today, in the Middle East, we must operate with a steady hand as we strive to help the parties move towards a comprehensive settlement. In recent days, we have been reminded just how hard this job is, and how deep the legacy of mistrust.

But never before has the logic of peace been so compelling or the opportunity for peace so clear. At this critical time, America's commitment to provide appropriate support to those who are willing to take risks for peace must remain rock solid.

In Africa, the most widely devastating conflict is in the Congo. The Lusaka Agreement provides a good basis for ending that war, and we have challenged the signatories to live up to their obligations under it. We are also asking Congress to support a carefully designed UN peace mission. Such a mission cannot impose a solution, but it can help give the parties the confidence they need to implement one. Nothing would do more for the region's future, or for our interest in a peaceful and self-reliant Africa.

In Southeast Europe, we are striving to foster stability and democracy throughout the region, and to build lasting peace in Kosovo. This will not happen without international support, and we are counting on our friends in Europe to provide the lion's share of muscle and money. But success will also require a clear demonstration of will by the region's leaders and people.

Last Monday's election in Croatia signifies a clear move by that nation away from excessive nationalism and towards true democratic values. This is the latest evidence that those who have given up on this region will be proven wrong.

The majority of people in Southeast Europe are far more interested in plugging into the world economy than in slugging it out with old adversaries. Obviously, huge obstacles remain in Kosovo, in Serbia, and elsewhere. But I am convinced that with sufficient resources, and the right leadership, Southeast Europe can indeed become a full partner and participant in the Euro-Atlantic Community.

A fourth purpose of our international affairs programs is to promote values that Americans cherish, including democracy.

A century ago, the number of national government elected freely and with universal suffrage was zero. Now it is 120. But many new democracies are threatened by economic problems, crime and ethnic strife. And there are some elected leaders whose commitment to democracy is only skin deep.

This reminds us that elections are but one ingredient in a truly democratic system. Needed, as well, are an open economy, a good legal system, political parties, independent labor organizations and a free press.

These institutions do not arise overnight. Building them takes time and knowledge.

I am proud of the help we are providing to nations in transition. And this year, we are determined to renew democratic momentum. We do this not out of altruism, but because democratic growth is part of the answer to many of the challenges--economic, political and military--that we face.

For example, we have an urgent and obvious stake in aiding Colombian President Pastrana's plan to rescue his country--and thereby help to rescue ours--from the scourge of cocaine.

Nigeria's future development will determine whether it is a source of chaos and corruption or a driving force for stability and progress throughout West Africa.

Indonesia has long been a leader in Southeast Asia. It now has a chance, although under severe stress, to become a model of multiethnic democracy, as well.

Aside from Russia, Ukraine is the largest and most influential of the New Independent States. The whole region will be affected by whether it slides backward, or continues up the democratic path.

The President's budget proposes significant investments in each of these four key democracies and in promoting democratic practices and values worldwide. Support for freedom is in the proudest of American traditions. I ask your help in getting a good start on what I hope will be known, with a small "d," as the democratic 21st Century.

Mr. Chairman, the bill for all of the programs and initiatives I have described--plus many more I have not had time to discuss--adds up to roughly one penny for every dollar the Federal Government spends.

But that single penny can spell the difference between hard times and good times for our people, war and peace for our country, less and more freedom for our world.

The annual budget debate in Washington typically revolves around issues that relate to the appropriate role of the federal--as opposed to state and local--governments in such areas as education and health care. But since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the protection of our national security has been one of the Federal Government's most basic tasks.

It is one of the few responsibilities that simply cannot be delegated or privatized. It is OUR responsibility, here in our nation's capital, to formulate plans for protecting American interests, and to come up with the resources to make those plans work.

Mr. Chairman and Senators, I know that you understand this. And I hope you will agree that American diplomacy belongs on the short list of budget priorities for the year 2001.

Long ago, when I first came to Washington, I had the honor of working for a great Senator--Edmund Muskie of Maine. Much of what I know about public service I learned from him.

The Senator had many distinctions, among them his status as the father of the congressional budget process. He was living proof that fiscal discipline and effective, activist government could go hand in hand. He also served as Secretary of State. And he believed to the depths of his being that America could only protect its future by living up to the high standards of leadership our country has so often shown in the past.

Much has changed since Ed Muskie served. But one thing has not, and that is America's purpose. For our nation, there are no final frontiers. We are not and have never been a status quo country. We are doers.

In the year ahead, we have the chance to add another proud chapter in the history of American leadership, in search of peace, in defense of freedom, on behalf of prosperity, and in service to our collective boss--the American people. I have no doubt that if we are united in that quest, we will succeed. Thank you very much.

[End of Document]
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