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Archive for October, 2010

MFAN Members Respond to the QDDR Preview

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
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InteractionMFAN Partner InterAction’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) page – a new page that features guest blog posts, policy analysis by InterAction staff, and other statements and news related to the QDDR – is buzzing over Secretary Clinton’s recently released Foreign Affairs article.  In the piece, Secretary Clinton gives insight into the final QDDR, rumored to be released by the end of the year.

Yesterday, we featured a guest post from InterAction’s page by MFAN Principal John Norris. Today, we’re featuring a reaction piece by MFAN Members Todd Shelton, Senior Director of Public Policy and External Relations, and Filmona Hailemichael, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator – both of InterAction. Taking a more critical tone the authors argue that while it is commendable for the Secretary to seek to elevate development, development in and of itself must be viewed as a way to achieve strategic US objectives and not as “just one more tool in the State Department’s toolbox.” Shelton and Hailemichael express concern over the range of tradeoffs in the QDDR including between short-term and long-term interests, distinct missions and overlapping authorities, and fragile states versus the poorest of the poor.  The authors are also troubled by the almost complete lack of implementing partners in the development discussion.  See below for key excerpts:

“The overall frame that elevates “civilian power” is positive, but many in the development community will be troubled by the implied fusing of development resources so closely with short-term political interests. While the Secretary asserts that “the State Department and USAID have distinct roles and missions,” her article fails to ensure the leadership space necessary for development expertise and effectiveness to flourish. Instead, Clinton declares that “the two Ds (development and diplomacy) reflect the world as the State Department sees it today and as it envisions it in the future.” What about other development partners? Where do they fit in?”

“The Secretary’s essay makes it very clear that the State Department and its embassies have primacy but the USAID Mission Director’s coordinating and leadership role for development priorities is overlooked. Furthermore, she emphasizes the expanding definition of diplomacy to include development and explains how this will change the roles of career State Department Foreign Service Officers to be more development savvy.”

“We’re also troubled and perplexed by the almost complete lack of acknowledgement of the important role played by State and USAID’s partners — the U.S. NGO community. NGOs are vital for building the local business and civil society capacity that the Secretary proposes and for raising donations from the American public that often exceed official U.S. development dollars.”

Clinton Gives Preview of QDDR

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
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Clinton-CGDIn an article titled “Leading Through Civilian Power—Redefining American Diplomacy and Development” that will be published in the Nov/Dec edition of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton lays out the contours of the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was launched by the State Department in the summer of 2009 and is set to be finalized and made public by the end of the year.

Clinton has been a strong proponent of a “smart power” approach for U.S. foreign policy, which leverages the “three Ds” of defense, diplomacy, and development.  Since becoming secretary of state, she has sought to elevate and bolster the civilian components of diplomacy and development within that framework, and the QDDR is a tool to operationalize and hopefully optimize the relationship between the two, using the Defense Department’s existing Quadrennial Defense Review as a model. “During my years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I saw how the Department of Defense used its Quadrennial Defense Review to align its resources, policies, and strategies for the present — and the future,” Clinton writes. “No similar mechanism existed for modernizing the State Department or USAID.”

In making the case for the value of this exercise, Clinton states, “The QDDR is not simply a review. It defines how to make diplomacy and development coordinated, complementary, and mutually reinforcing. It assesses what has worked in the past and what has not. And it forecasts future strategic choices and resource needs.”

Clinton goes on to highlight Congress’ continued support for the hiring of additional Foreign Service Officers at State and USAID, including the doubling of development staff  “with the specific skills and experience required for evolving development challenges.” This in turn will help make USAID “the world’s premier development organization, one that fosters long-term growth and democratic governance, includes its own research arm, shapes policy and innovation, and uses metrics to ensure that our investments are cost-effective and sound.”

But she asserts very clearly that diplomacy and development must work in close concert.  “Although the State Department and USAID have distinct roles and missions, diplomacy and development often overlap and must work in tandem,” she writes. “Increasingly, global challenges call for a mix of both, requiring a more holistic approach to civilian power… While USAID leads U.S. development work overseas, State Department employees today — from ambassadors to Civil Service experts — must be better versed and more engaged in development issues… The QDDR also focuses on the diplomatic side of effective development policy, arguing for building much stronger and more systematic links between the State Department and USAID both in Washington and in the field.”

The inaugural QDDR will focus on three areas:

  • modernizing and coordinating diplomacy across U.S. government agencies;
  • ensuring that U.S. development efforts produce a lasting and sustainable impact; and
  • creating a stronger nexus between diplomacy and development, as well as better coordination with partners in the military, in conflict zones and fragile states.

As part of the Obama Administration’s broader focus on development, Clinton references President Obama’s new development policy that was released last month, which “emphasizes the importance of targeting countries with responsible governments and favorable conditions for development and working in a smaller number of targeted sectors in each country for maximum impact.”

She also points to ongoing reforms at USAID led by Administrator Raj Shah, which are designed to make the agency “more effective, accountable, and transparent.” The reforms, called “USAID Forward,” include: changes in procurement reform that will build local capacity; evidence-based development spearheaded by USAID’s new Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning; and a greater emphasis on science and technology to help fuel innovation.

Clinton underscores the importance of countries leading their own development, saying that the QDDR “embraces development as a process of assisted self-help in the furtherance of American interests and values.” “A developing country must be in charge and set its own goals for meeting the needs of its people,” she continues. “The U.S. government comes to the table as a partner, not a patron, lending resources and expertise and, eventually, putting itself out of business when a host country is self-sustaining.”

She goes on to talk about how development – and foreign aid dollars needed to help catalyze development – are critical to U.S. foreign policy, saying, “As counterintuitive as it may seem, the answer is that development, when done effectively, is one of the best tools to enhance the United States’ stability and prosperity.”

“It is time to move beyond the past and to recognize diplomacy and development as national security priorities and smart investments in the United States’ future stability and security… The two Ds in the QDDR reflect the world as the State Department sees it today and as it envisions it in the future.”

MFAN Principal Reviews Sec. Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Piece on the QDDR

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
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John NorrisAs part of a new webpage, MFAN Partner InterAction – a coalition of about 200 US-based NGOs focused on poverty alleviation – takes a deep dive into the implementation of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD) and State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).

Currently, the page features Secretary Clinton’s Foreign Affairs piece, “Leading Through Civilian Power.”  MFAN Principal and Executive Director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress John Norris contributed a guest blog in response to Clinton’s article, made available yesterday. Norris cites three major takeaways from the article: “modernizing diplomacy; making development more effective; and creating a stronger nexus between diplomacy and development, including in fragile states.” He goes on to praise the Secretary for her commitment and willingness to improve and enhance our civilian tools in a complex new environment. Still, Norris argues the piece could go further in distinguishing development from diplomacy, with an emphasis on long-term over short-term priorities. Read below for a few key excerpts:

“Clinton gets some of these big challenges absolutely right, particularly the dilemma of trying to influence more diffuse actors using more diffuse instruments. In plain terms: almost every U.S. ambassador around the globe not only hosts officials from State and USAID in the embassy, they also host officials from the Departments of Agriculture, Justice, Energy, Commerce, Defense and more. Few ambassadors have been trained or educated in managing development, much less trade policy, agriculture, educational exchanges or the scores of other functions that are now in their lap.”

“The Secretary’s discussion of how to make diplomacy and development work better together is consistent with the President’s recent review of global development policy, and both are welcome signs that the administration takes development seriously and wants to get it right. Like the policy review, the Secretary stresses the need to be more selective in targeting where, and in what sectors, we deliver assistance based on practical metrics and the willingness of countries to drive the reform process.”

“But one clear marker is established: “…the State Department will lead in complex political crises, and USAID will lead in disaster response…” This is a notable shift from the practice during much of the 1990s, and it remains to be seen if the State Department actually has the staff resources and know-how to effectively design and deliver programming in these most demanding of environments.”

Do you agree with Norris’ review? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

The 112th Congress: A Perfect Storm for Aid Cuts, or a Perfect Opportunity for Reform?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
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Connie Veillette, Ph.D., the Director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance program at the Center for Global Development and MFAN’s newest Principal, guest blogged for The Will and The Wallet today. With one week left before the mid-term elections, Veillette ponders how the mounting budget deficit and the changing political dynamic will affect funding of the 150 account and the progress that has been made to date in advancing foreign assistance reform.feature-box-veillette-copy

“The American public has a better appreciation for the role that development plays as a key part of U.S. global engagement in the post-9/11 world.  Yet, policymakers often view foreign assistance as an area that can be cut without provoking public backlash.  This is in part because the direct beneficiaries live beyond our shores and the longer-term benefits for the U.S. take time, sometimes fail, and can be difficult to attribute to a specific foreign assistance intervention.”

Veillette makes several recommendation to Members of Congress, administration officials and development advocates to avoid “the perfect storm.” After all, “cutting it [the international affairs budget] would do far more harm to U.S. foreign policy than it will contribute to fiscal restraint.”

Her recommendations include:

  • Embrace reform as a way to improve effectiveness and achieve sustainable results.  The U.S. foreign assistance framework needs an overhaul – from its objectives to its architecture and everything in-between.   Reform also means prioritizing evaluations that can guide policy making and funding allocations.   The result will be that aid dollars will not just go farther, they’ll accomplish more.
  • Give Congress some ownership of important initiatives, including the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the new Global Development Policy, and the Feed the Future Initiative, among others.  Many of the ideas in the latter two were informed by early work done by authorizing committees.  This entails meaningful collaboration with more Members on more issues.  And yes, that includes Members who have been the most skeptical
  • Discard the notion that Republicans don’t get it when it comes to foreign assistance.  Some of the largest aid increases in history came under the previous Bush administration with bipartisan support in Congress.

To read the full article click here or visit the Stimson Center’s blog, The Will and the Wallet.

Partisan Politics and Foreign Aid

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
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With the midterm election just a week away, we are beginning to see the challenges of a new, partisan environment–particularly for foreign assistance spending and programs.  Just yesterday, minority whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) called for cutting funds to countries who don’t share US interests, with the exception of Israel. In his interview with the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Cantor pressed this decision might mean rejecting the State and Foreign Operations bill altogether.  State and Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) responded in force, saying in a statement: “The foreign aid bill funds U.S. diplomatic efforts at the State Department, including diplomacy related to peace in the Middle East.  It aids other countries in the region to help defeat al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and includes non-proliferation initiatives. In addition, the bill addresses moral imperatives that are also destabilizing factors, like hunger, poverty, and disease, which too often create a fertile environment for terror recruitment.”

Including Cantor, Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin has created a list of ten Republicans who could play an influential role post elections in affecting the implementation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda. See below for Rogin’s complete list of top GOP actors, with excerpts:

Eric CantorRep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) – “Cantor, who is particularly active on foreign-policy issues involving Iran and Israel, could see his role expand significantly if he is given the power to set the House floor agenda and therefore determine which bills are considered, in what form, and when. That could spell trouble for the administration’s foreign operations budget, which funds the State Department and sets levels for U.S. non-military assistance around the world.”Jon Kyl

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) – “Kyl has also been involved in the ongoing GOP effort to hold up the confirmation of several nominees for ambassadorships, such as Robert Ford and Frank Ricciardone. Increased GOP numbers could force the administration to take more seriously Kyl’s demands for more access to State Department communications and more explicit statements on the administration’s foreign-policy positions if it wants to see these ambassadors confirmed.”

Jim DeMintSenator Jim DeMint (R-SC) – “Most incoming Tea Party candidates don’t focus on foreign policy, but many will owe allegiance to DeMint because he has been filling their campaign coffers. They could be inclined to follow suit with his unilateralist, militaristic worldview, which many see as based on his neoconservative ideology rather than a realistic pursuit of U.S. interests in multipolar world order.”John McCain

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) – “But more broadly, he is poised to lead the Republican opposition to Obama’s attempts to significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, starting in July 2011…In short, he could close off the Senate Armed Services Committee as a reliable tool through which the White House could execute its foreign-policy aims.”

HONDURAS/Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – “If Republicans take the House, Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is poised to take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee and could drastically alter the committee’s agenda and priorities…Her ascendancy could also spell doom for Berman’s bill on foreign-aid reform. She argues often for more vetting of foreign aid in the hope of finding cuts, and she has also introduced legislation to cut U.S. funding for the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority.”Richard Lugar

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) – “The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar will see his foreign-policy role increase not because he stands opposed to the Obama administration’s policies, but rather because he will be needed to defend them…His ability to serve as a bridge between the administration and the increasingly conservative Republican rank-and-file will be crucial as the White House continues to push its foreign-policy agenda next year. Another scarce GOP Senate ally for the administration will be Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) who, like Lugar, supports new START and robust foreign-aid budgets.”

Kay GrangerRep. Kay Granger (R-TX) – “Although not certain, it’s likely that Granger, a Texas Republican, would take over the chairmanship of the House Appropriations subcommittee for State Department and foreign operations if the GOP wins the House. That would give her a large role in writing significant sections of the State Department’s funding bill. Although she supported the bill put forth this year by current chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), she criticized the increases for the foreign-ops budget, saying, “We also face the continued concern in our own country about our economy and the devastating effects of skyrocketing deficits and debt.” She’s a strong supporter of a balanced budget amendment, which doesn’t bode well for foreign-aid funding in this dismal fiscal environment…Granger is also on board with efforts to eliminate aid to countries that are not performing on internal reform, as she explained when expressing opposition to funding of the Senegalese government through the State Department’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. “We can’t just give out money and say we will put up with whatever you are doing,” she said.”Thad Cochran

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) – “There’s no budget resolution for fiscal 2011 and there’s no assurance that State and foreign ops funding will be completed during this congressional session, so Cochran and the new subcommittee members he chooses will be in the position to either defend or attack the version of the bill that’s already on the table…New subcommittee members will have less experience with this funding so will be in a less advantageous position to defend it in the near term. And, after February, they will already face the job of vetting the administration’s foreign-ops funding request for 2012, which is when big debates over foreign-aid funding, the civilian role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the role of the U.S. government in international fora will all come to a head.”

Olympia SnoweSenator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – “Snowe is being courted heavily by the administration to make the difference on several other issues facing the Senate, including lifting the military’s ban on openly gay service members and New START, which she has not yet indicated whether she will support. If Snowe gets the committee chairmanship, she will be one lawmaker that both Democratic and Republican leadership will be eager to woo.”Ed Royce

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) – “Royce is symbolic of Republican House members who are active on foreign policy and could change the tone of the foreign-policy discussion if the GOP takes over the House. He very well could become chairman again of the House Foreign Affairs Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee, where his staff could hold hearings on the Middle East, Africa, the war on terror, Afghanistan, and any other region sensitive to the administration’s national security goals.”