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Archive for the ‘Pressroom’ Category

Washington Post Preview of New Development Policy from Obama Administration

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
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Earlier today, Mary Beth Sheridan of The Washington Post published a preview of the new development  policy President Obama is scheduled to unveil this afternoon in his speech at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit.  Two MFAN principals were quoted in the article. Click here to read the full article and be sure to visit ModernizeAid later today to get a read-out of President Obama’s speech.

Key Excerpts Below:

“What we’d like to do is focus selectively on a subset of countries, or regions, subregions, and try and make sure all our development resources . . . are being applied in those countries in a way to maximize economic growth,” said one senior official in the article, speaking on condition of anonymity before Obama’s speech at the United Nations.

Carol Lancaster, dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a MFAN Principal, said, “It is not clear how the administration will choose its targets…it could be difficult to pull out of some countries because of diplomatic or congressional pressures.”

“A hint of how the new policy will work can be found in the president’s ‘Feed the Future’ program. It focuses on a small group of countries that have come up with detailed plans for their agricultural sectors. The countries have ’skin in the game,’ officials note – their own funds.”

“There used to be a debate that economic growth didn’t affect the poorest of the poor,” said J. Brian Atwood, who was USAID administrator under President Bill Clinton. Atwood currently serves as dean at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and is a Principal of MFAN. According to Bread for the World, a member of MFAN, “the administration’s strategy places stronger emphasis on support for inclusive, sustained economic growth…innovation and technology.”

MFAN Principal on a “Huge Missed Opportunity”

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
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MEXICO USToday, POLITICO published an op-ed by MFAN Principal and Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund Jim Kolbe in which he argues for definitive action on development and foreign assistance reform.  Kolbe cites the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit, currently underway, as the perfect opportunity to take concrete steps toward restoring U.S. leadership in the fight against global poverty and disease.  Kolbe specifically lists the following steps the Obama Administration should consider:

• “Say unequivocally that USAID is our lead development agency and give it the authority and resources to envision and implement programs in Washington and in the developing world;”

• “Create a business plan for operationalizing the MDG strategy and new development policy, making sure that it denotes clear lines of responsibility and accountability for U.S. development efforts; and,”

•” Pledge to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to update the Foreign Assistance Act, which has not been overhauled since it was written in 1961, despite the fact that the Cold War ended 20 years ago and the world now faces totally different development challenges.”

Read the full piece here and see more key excerpts below:

“Reforming U.S. foreign aid would make certain taxpayer dollars are used efficiently to drive sustainable growth and development. Advocates and reformers have been anxiously awaiting the release of a new global development policy, which the Obama Administration has promised in coming weeks, to see how concrete progress will be made on this issue.”

“While good people are working hard every day in these agencies, this muddled management structure is no way to create the best possible outcomes or implement innovative policies effectively. It also weakens USAID administrator Raj Shah, a recognized international health expert, and his agency, which Secretary Clinton has said repeatedly she wants to revitalize into the “world’s premier development agency.” To make matters worse, the majority of USAID’s senior leadership positions remain unfilled.”

Thomas Nides to State?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
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Thomas NidesThe latest in a string of suspects to replace Deputy Secretary Jack Lew is Thomas Nides, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of Morgan Stanley, Washington Post’s Al Kamen and Politico’s Laura Rozen reported this week. Nides is on the short list of Wall Street executives because of close ties formed while working for the Clinton Administration and on Capitol Hill.

From Kamen’s story: “Nides, 49, has moved in and out of Democratic politics and the financial world since 1984. He worked for former House speaker Tom Foley, then as chief of staff to former U.S. trade representative Mickey Kantor in the Clinton administration before moving to Fannie Mae. He managed the 2000 vice presidential campaign of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), then worked for Credit Suisse First Boston and Burson-Marsteller before heading to Morgan Stanley in 2005.”

Nides’ relationship to John Mack—first at Credit Suisse—allowed him to serve as chief of staff to Mack, directing him through the financial crisis.  Nides is also chairman of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a lobbying group for securities firms, banks and asset managers, though his term is up this year.

Though Nides has met with officials to discuss the position, no firm decisions have been made.  Does Nides’ experience make him suited to fill Lew’s shoes as Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources at State?  Let us know what you think below.

Rieff: Clinton’s “Muddled” Approach to Development

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
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Yesterday, The New Republic foreign policy blog, “Entanglements,” posted a piece by David Rieff examining Secretary Clinton’s recent speech on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at Johns Hopkins’ SAIS.  Rieff discusses Clinton’s speech in terms of the Obama administration’s approach to development – questioning whether there is enough funding and bureaucratic support to realize the numerous goals Clinton laid out.  Rieff offers a critical review of GHI and other development efforts:  the decision to have three agencies in charge of GHI’s day-to-day operations; policymakers’ claims of development assistance as a tool of “public diplomacy” and a way to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the continued priority funding for military programs.  Despite the critical tone, Rieff raises some interesting points about the overall direction of the Obama administration’s approach to development.  Read full text of the post here and see key excerpts below:


Noteworthy News – Pakistan Floods

Friday, August 20th, 2010
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See below for a sampling of opinion pieces and news articles discussing the floods in Pakistan and the disaster’s implications for security and development:

  • Pakistan’s tragic flooding demands an international response (The Washington Post editorial, August 17) There is a strategic case for aiding Pakistan in this time of crisis. Timely, generous assistance could improve America’s image in an area of the world where it has been unpopular. After a 2005 earthquake shook Pakistan, U.S. aid proved helpful in burnishing America’s reputation. But the positive impact of that assistance has largely faded; in this volatile region, images of helicopters bearing food have been replaced with helicopters delivering soldiers. Now the West has a chance again to show solidarity with Pakistani citizens — or it can risk losing ground to the extremist groups that some say are already stepping up to offer assistance. Aid might help build trust and reinforce Pakistan’s position as an ally in the international war on terror.
  • U.N. Warns of Supply Shortage in Pakistan (The New York Times, August 18) The United Nations, which had been saying that as many six million people needed some manner of emergency assistance — shelter, food, drinking water or medical care — estimated that figure could reach eight million.  “The funding response to the floods is improving but much more is needed,” he said. “The effort must be sustained in the days and weeks ahead in order to have the resources to reach the people who desperately need help.”  The United States was by far the largest single donor, with $82 million, according to United Nations figures, with the next largest donor Australia at $26.6 million. The United States said its total contributions amount to $90 million, including helicopters, boats and temporary bridges, according to the State Department.
  • US to boost Pakistan flood aid to 150 million dollars (AFP, August 19) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that US aid is swelling to 150 million dollars for Pakistan and called for a halt to extremist attacks during the flood crisis as an “expression of common humanity.” “I want to see more, and today at the United Nations I will be announcing more US assistance,” the top American diplomat told Dawn TV, in a transcript provided by the State Department.  When asked if the new aid total would be 150 million dollars, she said: “Yes. And I will also be announcing a way for individual Americans to contribute; a fund that I’m setting up here in the State Department.”  The State Department has said US flood aid was being distributed through the Pakistani authorities or relief organizations on the ground to “provide critical supplies to flood affected populations.”
  • Holbrooke: Donations Offer Leverage Over Pakistan Floods; Need Still Enormous (PBS Newshour, August 19) Holbrooke: … we all know how important Pakistan is strategically and politically to the U.S. We’re doing this, however, because the people are in desperate need, as you pointed out a moment ago. And it but we are not oblivious to the political and strategic implications of it. It’s just that we’re the president, President Obama, who has issued a statement, the United States government, all of us are just pitching in to do everything we can right now. And then we will let the dust settle and see where we go from there.