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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 16, 2008 at 4:09 PM

U.S. foreign aid

Modernize and provide funding

We couldn’t agree more with Lynne Varner’s call to modernize U.S. foreign assistance [“America must adjust foreign aid to a new world order,” editorial column, Oct. 8]. A robust U.S. international-affairs budget is essential to ensure we have the civilian capacity to address the global challenges facing America today.

Americans vastly overestimate what we spend on nonmilitary foreign expenditures.

But the U.S. international-affairs budget (representing only a bit more than 1 percent of our national budget) fuels America’s engagement with the rest of the world. Our diplomatic, development and humanitarian-assistance programs are critical to protecting our national security, promoting economic prosperity at home and abroad, and projecting our best values globally.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees: “It has become clear that America’s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long … relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world.”

It is time to modernize our international programs and commit the necessary resources.

When the new president and Congress take office in January, an essential first step will be to provide critical funding by passing a strong FY09 international-affairs budget.

— Lew Macfarlane, Sam Kaplan, Seattle

Words before bullets

I read the Oct. 8 column by Lynne Varner about adjusting to a new world order.

Right on, Lynne.

Suppose we had the money now that we’ve already spent in Iraq.

Let’s try words before bullets.

Diplomacy is a bargain and no one dies from practicing it.

I’m not against foreign aid — 1.4 billion people live on $1.25 or less a day.

We have economic problems but we’ve got a long way to go before we’re in such dire circumstances.

A new administration needs to live up to the [U.N.] Milennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, fight disease and to reform foreign aid to make sure that the U.S. contributes wisely to provide a more secure world for all our planet’s citizens.

— Rochelle Goldberg, Bothell

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