Increase Transparency: Americans have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent, but that information can be obscured or unavailable. In some instances, incomplete accounting of the budget has been used to conceal the reality of our fiscal situation. To uphold our commitment to a transparent budget process, we are simultaneously requesting both base budget and overseas contingency operations costs, with the same amount of justification and explanatory material for each, so that Americans can see the true cost of our war efforts and hold leaders accountable for decisions with all of the facts.
“We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset—in war and peace, in times of ease, and in eras of upheaval. Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.” —President Barack Obama, National Archives, May 21, 2009 —
The United States believes certain values are universal and will work to promote them worldwide. These include an individual’s freedom to speak their mind, assemble without fear, worship as they please, and choose their own leaders; they also include dignity, tolerance, and equality among all people, and the fair and equitable administration of justice. The United States was founded upon a belief in these values. At home, fidelity to these values has extended the promise of America ever more fully, to ever more people. Abroad, these values have been claimed by people of every race, region, and religion. Most nations are parties to international agreements that recognize this commonality. And nations that embrace these values for their citizens are ultimately more successful—and friendly to the United States—than those that do not.
Yet after an era that saw substantial gains for these values around the world, democratic development has stalled in recent years. In some cultures, these values are being equated with the ugly face of modernity and are seen to encroach upon cherished identities. In other countries, autocratic rulers have repressed basic human rights and democratic practices in the name of economic development and national unity. Even where some governments have adopted democratic practices, authoritarian rulers have undermined electoral processes and restricted the space for opposition and civil society, imposing a growing number of legal restrictions so as to impede the rights of people to assemble and to access information. And while there has been substantial progress in combating poverty in many parts of the world, too many of the world’s people still lack the dignity that comes with the opportunity to pursue a better life.