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Emergency Supplemental Request for Iraq and Afghanistan

John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Statement Before the House Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC
March 6, 2008

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Madam Chair, Ranking Member Wolf, members of the Committee, thank you for the invitation to appear before you. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Department’s urgent need for resources to address ongoing conflicts and crises that threaten our national security and humanitarian values.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. and allied forces are fighting hot wars that our adversaries would like to spread—to Pakistan, for example, and the greater Middle East. To keep that from happening, our war fighters require maximum diplomatic support.

In Mexico and Central America, we confront a different kind of war—a war of crime, contraband, and drugs. The Mexican and Central American governments now have made an unprecedented offer to help us fight that war and win it once and for all. We can’t let powerful drug and gang lords to the south expand their violent reach across our border.

In North Korea we have the opportunity to resolve the last conflict of the Cold War, bringing peace and stability to one of the most important regions of the world—Northeast Asia.

In the Middle East, our diplomacy is sharply focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have to be stronger, more creative, and more determined than the enemies of peace.

In Darfur and Sudan we are mounting humanitarian and political efforts that require an uninterrupted flow of resources to mitigate and reverse an unacceptable human tragedy. Without the international community’s engagement in Darfur and Sudan, that tragedy could grow worse.

Refugee assistance and humanitarian aid have long been fundamental features of U.S. foreign policy. This is difficult, resource-intensive work. Just in the last six months, commodity costs have risen 41%. I make this point here, although PL 480 Title II appropriations are handled by a separate subcommittee, to underscore the fact that humanitarian and refugee assistance support our diplomatic effectiveness on the ground. Basic human needs are at risk not only in Darfur and neighboring Chad but also in the case of Iraqi refugees, in Gaza, and recently, in internal displacements affecting Kenya and Sri Lanka.

I have submitted to the Committee a detailed statement for the record, so I will try to be brief in commenting on specific aspects of the Department’s FY 2008 Supplemental request.

In Iraq, the Administration’s objective is to extend the hard-won security gains achieved by the military surge and to continue to promote political reconciliation, reconstruction, and economic development. Fulfilling these goals falls heavily on the Department of State, which operates not only the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but also three regional embassy offices and 24 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), soon to be 27, for which we have requested $679.2 million. These PRTs are significant innovations in the way America can and must practice 21st century diplomacy. They are essential elements in achieving the goals I cited above and in ensuring the effectiveness of our foreign assistance to Iraq, for which we request $956 million. Without the funding in this supplemental request, we will have to cease operations in the very near term.

Our bilateral efforts in Iraq—and in Afghanistan—are complemented by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). These UN missions reinforce our efforts to combat terrorism through their work on human rights, rule of law, civil society development, political capacity building, counternarcotics, and police and military issues. They are prime justifications for our highly leveraged $53 million assessment for UN activities related to the Global War on Terror.

Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for the United States, which is reflected in the magnitude of our $839 million supplemental request. Our counterinsurgency strategy rests on the belief that by transforming the environment—helping to improve Afghanistan’s governance, transportation and commercial networks—we can drive a wedge between the people and the enemy and, at the same time reconnect the people to their government.

Having said that, I would emphasize the importance of the safety of our own personnel as they undertake this critical work. We request $162 million to support additional high threat protection teams, overhead cover for personnel safety, and more fully armored vehicles. We also request funding of $160 million to provide secure housing for U.S. Mission staff.

We cannot separate the challenges we face in Pakistan from the situation in Afghanistan. The porous land border between these countries provides ample opportunity for extremists to foment violence and instability in both places. Our $60 million request will address urgent governance needs in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, funding critical areas such as employment generation, Reconstruction Opportunity Zones, and education – projects which will address the underlying causes of extremism along Pakistan’s western frontier with Afghanistan.

Nearer to home, we have an excellent opportunity to respond to Mexican President Calderon’s historic request for cooperation in confronting criminal organizations that traffic contraband into the U.S. and threaten Mexico’s democratic institutions. Here is a key fact: Mexico and Central America make up the transit zone through which passes 90 percent of the cocaine that reaches American streets. We have therefore requested $550 million in the FY 2008 supplemental and an additional $550 million in the President’s FY 2009 Foreign Operations budget request.

North Korean denuclearization will be a major step towards peace and stability in Northeast Asia. The Six-Party Talks present a real opportunity to make progress. We appreciate the inclusion of half our funding request in the Omnibus Appropriation; we now require the balance of $53 million to procure and ship additional deliveries of Heavy Fuel Oil. As we move forward, we also need language in this supplemental funding bill to allow the Department of Energy to spend its funds in North Korea when the time is right.

Achieving peace and stability in Darfur and the surrounding region is another Administration priority. As the Committee knows, the Department requested a total of $723.6 million to fund our contributions for the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Full funding of that mission remains essential. In parallel, our request for $70 million in ESF supplemental funds will support Sudan’s national elections. If these elections fail, the fragile peace between the north and the south may be jeopardized. We believe that there can be no lasting solution for peace in Darfur if the Comprehensive Peace Agreement does not hold.

Finally, I would like to express the Department’s appreciation for the inclusion of $155 million of the President’s $375 million FY 2008 West Bank/Gaza GWOT Supplemental request in the FY 2008 base appropriation. But I must emphasize that our outstanding $220 million Supplemental request is urgent. Those monies are necessary to sustain our support for the priorities of a Palestinian Authority government that both the United States and Israel view as a true ally for peace.

Madam Chair, I have sketched out the Department’s supplemental funding request in broad strokes, but I believe that the examples I have cited illustrate the fact that the men and women of the Department of State and USAID are on the front lines of change in a dangerous world. They are helping the United States build alliances and partnerships against terror, drug trafficking, the threat of nuclear weapons, violent political instability, and humanitarian tragedies afflicting critically important regions of the globe.

I respectfully ask for the Committee’s strong support and timely passage of the Department’s request.

Thank you very much.

Released on March 6, 2008

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