e-News 10/20/17

e-News 10/20/17

  • ICYMI: “What Donald Trump should be saying to the World”

I invite you to read my recent Op Ed in the Bergen Record:

Reaction to President  Donald Trump's recent address to the U.N. General Assembly continues to ripple across the globe.  Of course, much of his “America First" message was actually directed at our adversaries.  But regardless of the intended target audience, it is very clear that we have much work to do to convince the world that America is not actually stepping back from its historical leadership role.

During my recent travels across North Africa and Southeast Asia, I met with foreign leaders eager for constructive engagement with “official” Washington and, specifically, the new administration.  Many were grateful for a congressional visit to show support for their efforts toward democratization. Our own State Department embassy’s “teams” welcomed our delegation to counter-balance fears of growing American isolationism.

It is no secret that this administration is attempting to change our foreign policy approach to the world – friends and foes alike.

Under James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, the administration is beginning the long-delayed process of rebuilding our Armed Forces by accelerating research and development on new armaments and the procurement of new weapons systems including additional modern warships, aircraft, missiles and cyber capabilities.  This effort is imperative if we are to meet a range of challenges – new and old – to our military preeminence.

However, if we are to protect and enhance our national security, we need more than a military-heavy approach, and it is no secret that we are not investing in the “soft power” of diplomacy.

This case in point is illustrated by the president’s proposed 33 percent cut to the State Department’s budget in his May 23budget and additional talk of implementing “efficiencies” and “consolidation” of departmental, operations and staff.

The House Appropriations Committee has attempted to moderate these unwise proposals.  We understand the administration’s desire to encourage more burden sharing by our allies.  Assuming this effort is bound to falter, we cannot afford unilateral diplomatic disarmament! Ceding the field militarily, economically and diplomatically to China or Russia or Iran today will only result in increased fiscal and defense costs tomorrow.

Our military leaders frequently remind us that the family is the backbone of our military strength.  The same must be said for our Foreign Service, which should be expanded, enhanced, supported and protected to allow our Foreign Service officers to conduct their vital duties for us around the world.

We need more diplomacy, added visits by senior U.S. government officials, greater involvement by the Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies, more support for hardworking non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and more military-to-military engagement in North Africa, and places like Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Yes, “hard power” is essential.  But, after all, it is the “soft power” of diplomacy and engagement that will determine if, as the president said at the U.N., “we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”

Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Harding Township, represents the 11th congressional district and is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

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