WASHINGTON – President Bush has made spreading democracy and halting terrorism in other countries a priority, and at first glance his budgets have leaned more on defense than diplomacy to achieve that objective.
But a close look at spending trends since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shows a growing reliance by the Bush administration and Congress on more than military might to accomplish that. Critics question whether the diplomatic spending is sufficient.
For the budget year that begins Oct. 1, Bush requested $442 billion for defense and $34 billion for foreign aid, the State Department and other overseas programs.
That would come to a 4 percent increase for the defense budget over this year, 13 percent for international relations. The figures exclude the tens of billions of dollars Bush will request for war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bob Work, an analyst with the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (search), said he expects money for international aid and diplomacy to continue to climb.
"We may be seeing the rebirth of an American emphasis on foreign aid rather than just the military," Work said.
Since the 2000 budget year, just before Bush took office, the defense budget has grown by nearly 40 percent, from $304 billion to $424 billion. Over the same time, spending for international relations has grown by 30 percent, from $23 billion to $30 billion this year.
Some analysts say it's still not enough.
"The thing that's different from the past is we have rhetoric from the administration that tells us that international, nonmilitary means are a very important aspect of what the Bush administration calls the war on terrorism," said Cindy Williams, a senior fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (search) who specializes in security issues.
Williams said recent increases in the budget for international relations do not match the rhetoric.
Despite polls showing the public thinks foreign aid is a large part of the $2.6 trillion budget, defense spending long has dwarfed the money for international relations. That largely is because of the cost of buying weapons systems and because the Defense Department has 3 million military and civilian employees, compared with 30,000 in the State Department.
In his inaugural address on Jan. 20, Bush said, "America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world," which he said was "not primarily the task of arms."
The following month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress, "More than ever, America's diplomats will need to be active in spreading democracy, reducing poverty, fighting terror and doing our part to protect our homeland."
While the start of the president's five-year, $15 billion global AIDS fund has contributed to the foreign aid increase, much of it also comes from new programs aimed at bringing democracy to other countries.
The president has asked for $3 billion for a program that gives aid to developing countries based on economic and democratic reforms. Congress has approved $2.5 billion so far, and Bush wants $5 billion a year in the future. Madagascar is the first country in line for money — about $110 million over four years.
In addition, Bush wants to give $5.8 billion to allies in the terrorism fight. Pakistan is set to get $650 million for security and economic programs, while Jordan would receive $450 million for border control and job-growth efforts.
It's always a battle for any president to get foreign affairs money from Congress because when it comes to the purse, legislators tend to give priority to their constituents. That was especially true for much of the 1990s, when big federal deficits led lawmakers to go after programs that sent money abroad.
"What you spend in Prague doesn't come back to Kansas City," said Edward Luttwak, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (search).
But following the Sept. 11 attacks, there has been more acceptance that providing nonmilitary money to foreign countries is an essential part of fighting terrorism.
Still, sometimes it can be a tough sell. Just last month, a House bill blocked Bush's request for a new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and funds for Afghan reconstruction projects. A Senate committee restored much of the money.