Apr 21 2004


U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, provided the following opening statement at today’s hearing on foreign assistance and international terrorism. Mr. J. Cofer Black, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Mr. Andrew Natsios, Administrator, US Agency for International Development, were the scheduled witnesses.

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this very important hearing. I look forward to the opportunity to address the subcommittee and the witnesses on the need to ensure that adequate resources and attention remain focused on the important role foreign assistance plays in waging a long-term struggle against terrorism.”

“Mr. Chairman, while I recognize that many view foreign aid programs as a drain on domestic programs, I believe that nothing could be further from the truth. I commend you for the role you have played over the years in leading the effort to ensure that U.S. interests abroad receive the attention and resources they need. Since the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, the importance of these programs has only grown.”

“Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiya, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and others prey on the destitute and the desperate in their efforts to replace existing governments with fundamentalist regimes that eschew democracy and freedom and that advance their cause through the use of indiscriminate violence. The scale of the problem, I think it is safe to say, has exceeded our greatest fears and anything we may have anticipated even as the threat of terrorism emerged during the 1990s as one of our most pressing national security challenges.”

“Successes against al Qaeda in Afghanistan – and they have been considerable – have had the perverse effect of diffusing the problem by replacing the hierarchy that once characterized Osama bin Laden's organization with less-centrally coordinated cells. The threat of terrorism today is enormous, and has already had a very fundamental transformational effect on the way we live our lives in history's strongest and most prosperous country.”

“I am a supporter of the President's Millennium Challenge Account. Foreign aid programs should take into account recipient countries' commitment to the ideals of democracy and free enterprise. Sadly, the war on terrorism does not allow for as broad an application of that principle as many of us would like.”

“Economic and security assistance to countries that share our interest in fighting terrorism but that do not represent our ideal recipient, must remain a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy for the foreseeable future. We simply cannot afford to discount the role countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Egypt and others play in the struggle against terrorism. They need our assistance, and they should receive it.”

“At the same time, we should not give out blank checks. Security assistance in particular, must come with strings attached that ensure it is not abused for the purpose of repressing legitimate democratic aspirations. Economic assistance, similarly, must be oriented toward transition to free market systems where the rule of law and transparency are integral parts of those transitions.”

“Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for the opportunity to address the hearing today, and look forward to the testimony of the witnesses.”