Secretary [of State, Madeleine]Albright, Secretary [of the Treasury, Lawrence] Summers, members of the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Campaign to Preserve U.S. Global Leadership, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Just last night I was in Colorado at our Space Command, visiting with our forces there and discussing with a group of industry executives some of the new security threats of our new world. But I wanted to be sure that I could be here this morning because this is such an important issue, both in the short-term and the long-term. How the Congress acts in this critical area will have a direct impact on the safety of our forces and the security of our nation.
The central question at hand, as Secretary Albright has noted, is whether the Congress will allocate a mere one penny of every dollar the U.S. Government spends to shaping a safer, more secure world. And so the question we face as a nation is this: Is one penny for foreign affairs for every federal dollar too expensive today when considering the possible costs tomorrow? The United States has forces stationed across the globe, from Asia to the Middle East to Europe. These forces – these men and women in uniform -- do not serve in isolation. Whether they are in danger, whether they find themselves at risk or engaged in military operations is a direct function of the peace and stability of the regions in which they serve, stability in many cases made possible by the very programs now threatened by inadequate funding.
So those who would question, for example, whether we should continue to fully support efforts to bring nuclear stability to the Korean Peninsula should consider the 38,000 American men and women who are serving within a short drive of the North Korean border.
Those who would question whether we should fully support efforts to bring peace and prosperity to regions like the Middle East should consider the more than 20,000 men and women in uniform serving in the Arabian Gulf region who would be most likely to bear the burden of any future conflict.
Those who would question whether we should fully support efforts to finish the important work we have started in the Balkans should consider the thousands of Americans serving in Bosnia and Kosovo today.
In short, those who think a mere one penny out of every federal dollar is too expensive must recognize that this is a pittance when measured against the cost of not preserving peace and stability. Indeed, no one, no one should view foreign affairs funding as merely another budget issue. It is no exaggeration to say that this is an issue of the very safety of our forces overseas. That is why it is so important that Congress approve this critical funding. That is why I wanted to be here today. Thank you very much.