Local Connection: East-West Center funds cut

By Rick Blangiardi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the APEC summit nears, Hawaii can be proud of the good that is done by the East-West Center, an independent educational and research organization in Manoa.

For half a century it has encouraged cultural and technical exchange among the nations of the pacific rim, and nurtured enduring friendships by East-West fellows who go on to become leaders in their home nations.

East-West center alumni include the current prime ministers of India and Malaysia. The center spends maybe 40 million dollars a year, and used to get about half of it from federal funding.

President Obama, recognizing the need to cut back on federal spending, cut that funding back in fiscal 2010 and again in fiscal 2011, the current budget year.

The Obama cuts would reduce federal funding for the East-West center from 21 million two years ago, to less than 11 million now.

But House Republicans decided to go farther, and propose to end federal funding for the east-west center altogether. But saving 11 million dollars can cost billions.

The East-West Center creates the bonds of friendships that keep nations from getting into trade wars or real wars.

It creates back-channels to talk to the Chinese, the North Koreans, even our closest official friends in the region.

This is a classic example of penny-wise and pound-foolish.

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