It’s only national security

IT’S ONLY NATIONAL SECURITY…. Much of the recent budget discussion has been focused on House Republicans’ intention to make deep, job-killing cuts to domestic discretionary spending. The list of targets has become rather familiar: education, job training, health care, environmental protections, etc.

What’s received less attention is the fact that the GOP has decided to include a great deal of international funds as part of “domestic” cuts.

Earlier in the week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to explain what a mistake this is.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Monday that Republican-proposed cuts in foreign aid to be considered by the House this week would harm the nation’s security interests and standing across the globe.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee and in a visit to Capitol Hill for a private meeting with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Mrs. Clinton sounded the alarm about reductions that she said amounted to a 16 percent decrease for the State Department from current spending and a 41 percent cut in money available for humanitarian programs.

“Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world,” Mrs. Clinton said in a letter to Representative Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Later in the week, Pentagon chief Bob Gates told the Senate that Clinton is right.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a Senate committee Thursday that everything the United States has accomplished in Iraq is potentially at risk if the State Department does not get the money it has requested to fund its work there as U.S. forces exit this year. […]

He said it is “a critically urgent concern” that a planned $5.2 billion allocation for fiscal 2012 be approved, so that the State Department can carry on the training of Iraqi police and other programs once handled by the Pentagon.

He pointed out that because current funding is limited by the continuing resolution for fiscal 2011, which allots funds at 2010 levels, the State Department “can’t spend the money to get ready right now. . . . There are facilities to be built. There are people to be hired. And they can’t do any of that. And so we’re going to run out of time in terms of being able to get this accomplished.”

The situation, Gates said, reminded him of the 1980s, when “we spent billions to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, and we couldn’t get a million dollars to build schools in Afghanistan in 1989 and 1990,” and eventually the Taliban took over.

If the State Department does not get the needed funds, he added, “the same thing is going to happen in Iraq.”

How did House Republicans respond to the pleas? By slashing the State Department budget anyway. The party that claims the high ground on national security simply doesn’t care anymore.

Also note, the same package also included major cuts to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s counter-proliferation programs, “the sole purpose of which is to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on loose nuclear weapons and materials,” and eliminated the money Senate Republicans fought for to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

The angle to the budget fight has gone largely overlooked, because of the GOP’s brutal cuts to domestic priorities, but Republicans blew off warnings and made sweeping budget cuts that undermine U.S. national security interests.

When the anti-spending crusade makes us less safe, it’s gone too far.