The foreign policy establishment in Washington is crying foul after the Trump administration proposed to cut funding for organizations responsible for “promoting democracy abroad,” often in the guise of color revolutions.
The 2019 State Department budget request cuts the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) budget and separates it from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Funding for the institutes would be moved to the State Department, where NDI and IRI would have to compete with private contractors, according to the Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, who described the proposal as “an assault not only on their organizations but also on the pro-democracy mission they are dedicated to.”
“If implemented, the proposal would gut the program, force crippling layoffs and the symbolic meaning would also be shattering, sending a signal far and wide that the United States is turning its back on supporting brave people who share our values,” NED President Carl Gershman told Rogin.
“The work our government does to promote democratic values abroad is at the heart of who we are as a country,” Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), chairman of the IRI’s board of directors, told Rogin. The NDI board is chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
McCain actually wrote a letter protesting the proposal to the Office of Management and Budget in December. It was signed by four other senators, including McCain’s close ally Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Trump’s people “just don’t believe it’s America’s business to push democracy abroad,” Rogin concluded.
His article quickly made the rounds of the Washington establishment circles, where it received praise from former CIA agent and failed presidential candidate Evan McMullin and New Republic columnist Jeet Heer. Nicholas Burns, who served as State Department spokesman under Albright, said the revelations will “make your blood boil” . . . .