Trump scuttles State Department

Trump scuttles State Department

US President Donald Trump's budget proposal would convert some of the United States' foreign military grants to loans, part of a larger effort to slash spending on diplomacy, aid and programs abroad by more than 29%, the White House said.

Under President Donald Trump's proposal, the United States would spend $27 billion on the Department of State, USAID, and Treasury International Programs in the 2018 fiscal year compared to 2017 ($38 billion).

The Trump administration proposed $19.1 billion for NASA in its fiscal 2018 budget, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2017 funding levels.

At the same time, Donald Trump requested $639 billion Pentagon budget for the fiscal year 2018.

Congress ultimately controls the government purse strings and may reject some or many of the Trump administration's proposals. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have criticized the size of the cuts to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

The draft, in order to become binding, must be approved by both the House and Senate. 

The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that there are several reasons for reducing the State Department's funding. "First of all, we see that there is a serious increase in political violence in the world, and under these conditions there is a rapid growth of military and political resources. In addition, Trump was supported precisely by law enforcement agencies, and the State Department resolutely opposed him, so the president is simply transferring the budget to his people," he pointed out.

"The third reason lies in the change in concept: Trump's opponents Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were betting on the creation of a global system led by the US, which requires tools of 'soft' strength, represented by the State Department. Trump's coalition is in favor of a rigid national egoism, which requires a powerful military force. Hence the reduction in the budget of the State Department in favor of the Pentagon," Sergei Markov said.

The Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, in turn, thinks that in fact, part of the Department of State will go into the shadows. "In my opinion, they create the appearance that they are reducing their activities and representation. But in reality everything will remain in closed budget articles, and the State Department will continue to be financed in the same amount. This is a manifestation of double standards that have been long used by Americans, and it is very difficult to believe in the cut to the State Department's budget," he believes.

This is also indicated by the extension of State Department staff. "Not so long ago, two completely new departments with a large number of personnel were approved, one of which will work with the countries of Eastern Europe, and the other is the expanded Middle East department that will deal with the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Even if the US Congress formally approves a plan to cut the State Department's budget, their funding will become classified. As for the Pentagon, the US worried about the Russian army's re-equipment, and therefore, I think, the military budget will be increased even more than they said today," Alexander Gusev concluded.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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