The Secretary of State is protesting the $5 billion in cuts that Congress has made in the administration's $22.6 billion international affairs budget. He says that the programs serve vital American interests, and he is right. Security assistance, foreign aid, protection for American embassies, a role in international organizations, fighting the narcotics trade: these are the dues of a world power.
But what dollar value should be placed on them? The administration puts its international affairs budget in the same category as defense: essential, no cuts; it is requesting 10 percent more than last year. Congress, being less intensely focused on national security, thinks that in the current budgetary crisis, fairness demands that all sectors take some cuts. It is this, not a traditional distaste for "foreign aid" (though that sentiment surely exists and is part of it), that impels the Senate and the House.
In fact, the Shultz budget is not primarily ''foreign aid.'' The programs the administration would choose to cut, if it were forced to cut, include Third World development. The programs the administration would refuse to cut are in security aid. In the last Carter budget, $5 billion (out of $13.1 billion in outlays for international programs) went to international security assistance. In the Reagan budget, the comparable figure is $10.9 billion (out of $18.6 billion). All the increase has been on the security side.
The administration, with much congressional support and with good reason, wishes to shelter the aid flowing to countries where America has a strong security interest: Israel and Egypt, which are to get $5.3 billion; countries such as the Philippines where Washington has bases and a keen interest in the success of a new government; Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan; Central America. But if there is not to be a cut in security programs, must there be the administration's proposed $1.3 billion increase? In any event, participation in development and world organizations, plus the new effort to improve embassy security, should not be victimized as a result.
All these programs are important, and even in a tight budget they should probably be supported at least at last year's levels. Both the Senate and House budget committee chairmen have suggested to George Shultz that he go back to the president for a tax increase. That is the approach we favored from the start of this year's debate. If it is not to be, however, the administration just has to engage in what Secretary Shultz calls the ''rock and sock'' and work with Congress to come up with the necessary funds.