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Foreign policy in US national security interest

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The US State Department unveiled a request Tuesday for a heftier $46.2 billion for its 2015 budget, saying investing in foreign policy was a "strategic imperative."

"From Tunisia to Ukraine, the Philippines to South Sudan, I've never witnessed a moment in our country's history more than this one where our investments in diplomacy and development truly amounted to what a wise senator once observed is 'national security insurance,'" top US diplomat John Kerry wrote in the foreword to his department's budget request.

It comes as part of the overall fiscal year 2015 budget, projected at $3.9 trillion, unveiled Tuesday by the administration of President Barack Obama -- and which is almost certain to be blocked by Congress.

For fiscal 2014, the department received an appropriation of $40.3 billion.

While Kerry said in the foreword that the budget had been constructed to strike a balance between investing in "America's security and prosperity and the political imperative to tighten our belts," he warned last week in an interview with reporters against a "new isolationism."

Recalling the 2102 attack on the US mission in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, Kerry argued in the budget request that his 70,000 staff deployed across 275 posts "work in some of the most dangerous places on earth, and take risks ever day to promote America's interests and values."

Part of the budget, about $4.6 billion, would go toward improving facilities and security training to help better protect diplomats and others serving overseas.

The overall request also included $1.1 billion for humanitarian assistance in Syria, still struggling under a grueling three-year war, as well as $430 million for the Syrian opposition and supporting democratic reforms in the region.

A further $5.1 billion has been requested for programs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- but Kerry said that was a significant cut on previous years, and reflected "our on-going effort to right-size our presence and programs."

Some $2.6 billion of that would be dedicated to Afghanistan where Afghan forces are due to take up the lead role on security this year "significantly reducing costs to US taxpayers."

However, the top US diplomat called on lawmakers to boost the budget for East Asia and Pacific some 8.0 percent to a total of $1.4 billion "reflecting the strategic decision to rebalance our resources towards this critical region."

"This funding will bolsters our regional allies, solidify key bilateral relationships, strengthen the region's security architecture and provide foreign assistance to .... one of the most dynamic parts of the world."

Other sums were detailed to help fight climate change, global health and assistance programs as well as to meet international peacekeeping needs.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140304/foreign-policy-us-national-security-interest