August 28, 2017

Senator Young Keynotes U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Event in Indianapolis

Why U.S. Global Leadership and Engagement Matter

“The title of the event today is “America’s Role in the World:  Why Leading Globally Matters for Indiana.”

“Now, I realize by virtue of being associated with USGLC and being here today, most of you already know why American international leadership is good for our state and nation. 

“But allow me to briefly describe a few principles that guide my thinking.

“First, if we are to keep America safe and prosperous at home, then we must remain engaged and lead abroad. 

“Today, threats such as terrorism, pandemics, and cyber attacks do not respect borders.  These threats are as diverse and serious as any in memory, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do not afford the protection they once did.  As a result, we cannot best protect our citizens if we pretend America is an isolated fortress and pull up the drawbridge and hide behind the moat.

“The tragic events of September 11, 2001, underscored that fact and demonstrated once again that what happens in other countries can impact us here at home. 

“In other words, the transnational threats we confront require the United States to proactively work with other countries—rather than trying to go it alone. 

“But, it’s not just our security that demands U.S. international leadership and engagement—it’s our economic interests too.

“Here are a few statistics:

“Approximately 95% of consumers are outside of the U.S.; over 812,000 Hoosier jobs are tied to international trade; and Hoosiers export more than $34.7 billion a year to foreign markets.

“In other words, the economy, jobs, and prosperity in our state depend greatly on talented and hard working Hoosiers having the ability to access markets abroad and compete internationally.

“U.S. international leadership and engagement is not just about security and prosperity alone—it’s about much more than that.

“It’s also about doing good.  Our nation is at its best when we help feed the hungry, protect the vulnerable, speak out for political prisoners, and assist those who seek to enjoy the universal human rights that we enjoy. 

“Undoubtedly, the federal government’s first responsibility is to the American people.  There is also no doubt that we should look for our partners to contribute too, and the United States cannot help everyone.

 “But we should not use these realities as an excuse to avoid leading, engaging, and helping where we can.  That would be neglecting our moral imperative, and it would also be shortsighted. 

“Here’s why:  In my experience and from my observation, when America deliberately and thoughtfully seeks to do good internationally, more often than not, it turns out to be strategically prudent as well.

“Think of the Marshall Plan after World War Two.   We helped vulnerable European partners emerge from the rubble of that devastating war, and they have become some of our most valuable security and trading partners. 

“Think of the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa.  By assisting those countries, we not only helped the suffering people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, but we also helped contain the spread of Ebola and protected Americans.  

“So, I believe it is in our interests and consistent with our values to engage and lead internationally.  In addition, if America does not lead, other countries—such as Russia or China—will fill the vacuum.  If that happens, our interests, our security, our economy, and the universal humanitarian principles we have fought for will suffer.    

Importance of U.S. Diplomacy and Development

“For these reasons, we want to ensure our federal government is prepared to play its international role as effectively as possible.

“When I survey the federal government, like others before me, I see three primary legs to our national security stool:  diplomacy, development, and defense. 

“I like this simple metaphor because it illustrates that all of the legs are essential and interdependent.

“As someone who served in the Marine Corps, I recognize that sometimes there is a tendency to focus on the defense leg—neglecting, under-appreciating, and under-funding the development and diplomacy legs.

“But, I believe neglecting or underfunding the development and diplomacy legs of our national security stool is shortsighted, unwise, and even dangerous. 

“And, I am not alone in that belief.  As you know, the USGLC has a National Security Advisory Council (NSAC), which includes more than 180 retired three and four star generals and admirals.  In February, more than 120 of them sent a letter expressing their strong support for the international affairs budget.   As they wrote in that letter, “we know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone…”  They continued, “The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”[1]

“Perhaps that’s why James Mattis—former Commander of U.S. Central Command and now-Secretary of Defense—famously said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

“If we want to send our brave troops to war less often and we want to bring them home sooner, then we should not starve our development and diplomacy efforts of the resources they need.  

Administration’s Budget Proposal

“Despite the clear value of our diplomacy and development efforts, the Trump administration submitted a fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request that proposed slashing the budgets for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by about a third.

“While I support the administration’s desire to “improve efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability,” slashing the Department of State and USAID budgets would undermine those goals.  On the contrary, a cut of that magnitude (especially without first conducting the necessary strategic analysis) would do significant and enduring damage to our diplomacy and development enterprises—not to mention the security, prosperity, and good that those efforts help achieve.  

“So, that’s why I agree with Lindsey Graham with respect to the Department of State and USAID:  the administration’s budget request is “dead on arrival.”

“To ensure that budget request was “dead on arrival”, in April, along with Senator Durbin, I led an effort defending the international affairs budget to the leaders of the budget and appropriations committees.  The letter was signed by 43 senators.

“It’s not that I oppose a serious effort to “improve efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability” at the Department of State and USAID.  On the contrary, I strongly support such an effort.

“The point is that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing that.

“Instead of hasty, arbitrary, and unwise cuts to diplomacy and development, I think we should first conduct strategic analysis from an ‘ends, ways, means’ perspective.  In other words, we should first identify in a rigorous way what we are trying to accomplish and then examine the tools available and tools needed.  Finally, we need to determine how best to invest our finite resources as effectively as possible to protect and promote our most important interests and objectives in light of leading threats and challenges. 

“That’s why I introduced with Senator Shaheen the National Diplomacy and Development Strategy Act of 2017.  I am pleased to report that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a version of this legislation.  I will continue to pursue this legislative priority until it becomes law.

“This kind of strategic analysis can and should inform the reform and reorganization that we know is necessary.

“Take our nation’s development enterprise for example. 

“There has not been a major ‘relook’ of our development assistance since the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

“Can you imagine what an organization or company here in Indiana would look like today that has not conducted a major review or reorganization in more than 55 years?  I think we can say with confidence that it would be an inefficient and outdated organization or company at best and probably more likely a failing one. 

“That is not to say there haven’t been any changes to our development enterprise in the decades since 1961.  There have been incremental changes, but those changes have resulted in a fragmented system.  In fact, there are over 20 federal agencies engaged in assistance overseas.  That has resulted in a disjointed and inefficient system ripe for improvement.

“That is why I recently co-chaired a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Bipartisan Task Force with Senator Shaheen on “Reforming and Reorganizing U.S. Foreign Assistance.” 

“The task force consisted of a bipartisan coalition of former Republican and Democratic officials, as well as retired senior Foreign Service Officers and civil servants, representing about thirty of our nation’s leading development experts.

“Within a very short period of time, we produced a serious and substantive report that can guide reform and reorganization efforts going forward.

“In addition to ensuring our diplomacy and development are strategy driven and our reform and reorganization efforts are well designed, we must also ensure that State and USAID are being held accountable. 

“That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Department of State and United States Agency for International Development Accountability Act of 2017.  It requires the Department of State and USAID to implement GAO recommendations or explain to Congress why they aren’t being implemented.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the State Department version of this legislation, and I have been using hearings, letters, and staff queries to push USAID to be more responsive to GAO’s recommendations and to do a better job or providing Congress the information it needs to conduct its oversight responsibilities. 

“With a great leader like Mark Green now at the helm at USAID, I look forward to working with that agency even more in the future.   


“In short, if we are going to build and sustain broad, bipartisan, and durable support for robust investments in diplomacy and development in particular, and the international affairs budget more broadly, we must be able to prove to skeptics that these programs are as efficient and well-run as possible and that they are essential to our nation’s freedom, security, and prosperity. 

“That’s why I have led some of these legislative efforts, and why you can count on me to continue to do so in the future. 

“Thank you again for being here today and for allowing me to share some of my thoughts with you. 

“I look forward to continuing our conversation and working together going forward.

“Thank you again.”