Republicans aim to gut US diplomacy: lawmaker
A top White House ally warned Monday that deep spending cuts sought by Republicans risked crippling US-led campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as efforts to combat terrorism and aid Israel.
Representative Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, complained Republicans had spared military funds — but not diplomatic and some overseas security and aid programs — from “drastic cuts.”
He cited “weapons and training to build the capacity of key partners in the fight against terror, in Yemen, in Pakistan, and the Philippines” as well as “financing for the purchase of US military equipment to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge” over its neighbors.
In Afghanistan, the cuts would mean “an end to the ‘civilian surge,’ would force the military to perform civilian jobs” and notably cripple efforts to eradicate the poppy crop that serves as a raw material for opium and heroin.
In Iraq, the spending reductions would affect “training for Iraqi police and security forces to take over when the US troops depart” at year’s end, Berman said in a passionate speech on the House of Representatives.
And in both war zones, the cuts would reduce the impact of inspectors general whose job it is to root out corruption and assess the effectiveness of US programs, he said.
Republicans have vowed deep cuts in non-defense discretionary spending — to 2008 levels — in a bid to reduce the US government deficit and deflate the ballooning US national debt, now at 14 trillion dollars.