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30 Mar, 2023 12:49

White House reveals budget for foreign influence operations

The US will spend billions to “keep the torch of liberty burning,” President Joe Biden told the virtual Summit for Democracy
White House reveals budget for foreign influence operations

US President Joe Biden has announced an additional $690 million in spending on what he described as efforts to support democracy around the world, as well as plans to secure a further $9.5 billion from Congress for the same purpose.

Much of the money will go through a new bureau to be created within the US Agency for International Development, he said on Wednesday. The agency operates under the Department of State and is ostensibly responsible for humanitarian aid programs.

Biden revealed the funding plans during a virtual gathering of leaders of select nations, which his administration considers to be “democracies” as opposed to “autocracies.” The $690 million has been allocated to the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, which Biden launched in 2021 during the inaugural Summit for Democracy.

In a fact sheet accompanying the announcement, Washington described several areas in which it says American taxpayers’ money will help strengthen democracy abroad. The list of causes includes supporting “free and independent media,” strengthening “information integrity,” fighting corruption by having the US Treasury “unmask shell companies,” bolstering “human rights and democratic reformers” and defending “free and fair elections.”

In his remarks at the so-called Summit for Democracy, Biden praised his administration, saying it has demonstrated that the US political system “can still do big things and deliver important progress for working Americans.” Among its achievements, he mentioned lowering costs of some prescription drugs and health insurance premiums and “creating good union jobs” as part of an effort to renew US infrastructure.

The meeting, which Biden twice erroneously called “Summit of Democracies” before correcting himself, is meant to “galvanize action that translate[s] to concrete progress for people around the world,” he said, according to a White House transcript.

“The democracies of the world are getting stronger, not weaker. Autocracies of the world are getting weaker, not stronger,” he declared. “Our world needs to make democracies stronger, to keep the torch of liberty burning for ourselves and generations to come.”