Fifty years ago the United States entered a new international system armed with resources to meet the new challenge of communism. At the height of the Marshall Plan, for example, some 16 percent of the U.S. federal budget was dedicated to supporting Europe alone. Today we are again in the early stages of a new international system, but without a unifying challenge to raise foreign affairs resources much above 1 percent of the federal budget. Remarkably, with tin cup diplomacy and some triage, the United States has been able to deal fairly successfully with post-Cold War complexity. Our capabilities are now fraying, however, and international leadership cannot be sustained unless the resource slide is reversed.
Reductions in the international affairs budget have been deep, with constant dollar cuts of about 34 percent over the past decade, including a 14 percent cut in just the last two years. Defense expenditures have also fallen 34 percent since l986. Expressed as a percentage of GNP, defense and international affairs spending together has dropped from 6.9 percent to 3.7 percent during this period. International affairs cuts have also been targeted at specific accounts. For example, the drop in international security assistance has been 74 percent over the decade, so deep that if aid to Israel, Egypt, and Turkey is excluded, the United States has basically given up security assistance as an instrument of foreign policy. Other areas particularly hard hit are the United Nations, information and exchange programs, and multilateral development aid.