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Archive for the ‘White House’ Category

MFAN Principal Dissects National Security Strategy, Urges President Obama to Issue Global Development Strategy

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
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Noam UngerMFAN Principal Noam Unger, Global Economy and BrookingsDevelopment Fellow at the Brookings Institution, comments on last week’s release of the Obama Administration’s first National Security Strategy (NSS), and calls for the President to deliver a U.S. Global Development Strategy to expand upon what was laid out in the NSS.

Global Development in the U.S. National Security Strategy

Noam Unger, Fellow, Global Economy and Development

The Brookings Institution

President Obama’s national security strategy sets the stage for his administration to put a premium on global development cooperation. But, will the administration follow through?

The unveiling of the full strategy makes clear that U.S. global development policies will factor into each of the strategy’s four major pillars: security, prosperity, values and international order. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Brookings yesterday about the strategy and despite talking about development at times during her remarks, the degree to which development is infused in the strategy was not particularly underscored. Given her track record of speaking passionately and extensively on development, I was surprised that she did not explicitly emphasize its importance.

The point in the national security strategy on being strong at home in order to lead globally is understandably a separate but important pillar for U.S. security and global leadership. Nevertheless, aspects from all the other key points in the strategy connect to America’s ability to promote global development and effectively assist people around the world. In the security section, development features primarily through the lens of stabilization, reconstruction and conflict prevention. In the prosperity section, the focus is on global public goods and investments in sustainable and long-term development. The values section references a slew of development principles and actions – as Clinton noted in her speech that “democracy, human rights and development are mutually reinforcing.” Lastly, the section on international order highlights the administration’s intent to renew U.S. multilateral development cooperation.

In recent months, the administration has publicly said favorable things on a broad range of development topics, such as the linking of climate change adaptation and development aid, of health threats and health systems, of sustainable results and a reasonable time horizon for investment, of programming decisions and evidence-based research, of capacity building and local ownership of development projects. Obama and his team have also demonstrated a high level of commitment to development issues on the international stage. However, the problem is not in the administration’s rhetoric.

The problem is that the U.S. needs to fundamentally reform its internal systems for managing and implementing its global development policies. This includes foreign assistance, but it also includes areas such as trade, agriculture, international finance and migration. As USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has expressed, development is a discipline, but it is presently a discipline that is marred by U.S. policy incoherence largely because it is organizationally fragmented and structurally weak in lacking its own distinct clout in policy deliberations. The U.S. needs to put itself in a better position to support the broad range of development imperatives, including post-conflict reconstruction, the alleviation of poverty and human suffering, and the promotion of good governance and equitable economic growth. Only by doing this can the U.S. government effectively promote its values and security interests.

It is quite possible that the 2010 national security strategy will help open the door for the systemic elevation and reform of U.S. global development policies and operations. If Obama chooses to seriously head in that direction, the path is already somewhat illuminated:

At a strategic level, the development policy review ordered by the president last summer is rumored to be finished and its conclusions captured in a document. A draft of the document was leaked and then published earlier this month. Let’s hope the final version retains an approach to development that includes a deliberate policy, a more effective and partnership-oriented operation, and a new architecture that truly elevates development and coalesces development resources around a more focused set of objectives. The leaked draft called for a routine U.S. Global Development Strategy. As others and I have noted in the past, such a strategy could substantively expand on the national security strategy. It could do so in much the same way as the national military strategy. Having just completed consultative government-wide reviews of national security and development, the White House should aim to deliver the first U.S. Global Development Strategy in time for Obama’s much-anticipated speech on development at September’s United Nations summit.

At the operational level, many more changes are already underway, including a broader global health initiative, a forward-looking global hunger and food security initiative, the re-establishment and revitalization of USAID’s policy planning bureau and further reforms to improve the agency’s procurement, human resources and transparency.

Since day one, this administration has needed to redefine America’s global development cooperation. While its efforts in 2009 were detrimentally sluggish, the new national security strategy could breathe new life into the effort.

MFAN Principal Jim Kunder on Development and National Security

Thursday, May 27th, 2010
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Below is a great blog post from MFAN Principal Jim Kunder, senior resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund, that explores the role of development in a national security framework.  Kunder looks to the newly created UK National Security Council — which includes a Secretary of State for International Development in its leadership — as a model for what development can and should be in the U.S.

Development and National Security:  Clarity in London, but a Foggy Bottom in Washington

Jim_KunderIn a recent German Marshall Fund blog (In the United State: A Breakthrough in the Tortured Foreign Aid Debate?), I summarized an early draft of the White House’s Presidential Study Directive 7 – the Obama Administration’s first cut at a comprehensive policy on international development.  I argued that “PSD-7,” while proposing modest enhancements in the status of the U.S. Agency for International Development, mostly reflects “continued uncertainty about whether the United States government really wants a center of excellence, strong and vocal, in international development.”

Most serious national security analysts, on both sides of the Atlantic, recognize that there is a clear correlation between poverty and hopelessness, on the one hand, and threats to national security, and instability, on the other.  Although the correlation is complex – and may include intervening variables of culture, belief systems, efficiency of security forces, and mobilization dynamics – few policymakers fail to appreciate that individuals and groups with little hope for their, or their children’s, advancement can be relatively easy recruits for violent movements and ideologies.

Certainly, the new government in London recognizes this link.  In announcing the formation of the UK “National Security Council,” the Prime Minister’s Office noted that “The Council will coordinate responses to the dangers we face, integrating at the highest level the work of the foreign, defence, home, energy and international development [my emphasis] departments, and all other arms of government contributing to national security.”  The National Security Council, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, includes, as permanent members, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Defence, and the Security Minister.  And, of course, the National Security Council permanent membership includes the Secretary of State for International Development – a clear recognition by the British government that international development is intrinsic to national security.

In the United States, regrettably, a clear understanding of the strong linkage between international development and national security remains elusive; USAID’s status in national security deliberations remains “foggy;” and, despite soaring rhetoric in PSD-7, international development remains at the bottom in the theoretically equilateral defense-diplomacy-development triangle.  Based on the draft Presidential Study Directive, instead of USAID being invited as a full-time member of the United States version of the National Security Council, the USAID Administrator “will be included in NSC meetings when appropriate.”  Since the same document states unequivocally that the USAID Administrator will report to the Secretary of State, those familiar with policy dynamics within the Obama Administration question whether USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will ever sit regularly at the NSC table.

When evaluating the national security of the Atlantic nations, a strong defense clearly counts; an active diplomacy counts; and, equally clearly, reducing poverty, enhancing democratic participation, and providing hope for the future – which go by the name “international development” – also counts.  London’s newly created National Security Council reflects all foreign policy elements of national security.  It’s time for similar clarity in Washington.

MFAN Partner Comments on Upcoming Release of National Security Strategy

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
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Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development and MFAN member, has a new post on CGD’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance blog about the Obama Administration’s forthcoming National Security Strategy.  It was announced earlier this week that Secretary Clinton will be outlining the new strategy at the Brookings Institution tomorrow.  We expect development to be a key focus of the National Security Strategy, which — as Sarah Jane notes — President Obama cited when he previewed the strategy at West Point, saying “combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth” and “helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick” are major challenges the U.S. faces today.  Read the full blog post here and see excerpts below:

“The new strategy will cover prevention of nuclear proliferation and terrorism as well as the use of defense, development and diplomacy in the U.S. national security interest.”

“I’m eager to see the full National Security Strategy and articulation of how the Obama administration will elevate development alongside diplomacy and defense in our national security interest. The release of the new strategy should also tee up long-awaited announcements about the outcome of the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy (PSD) and the findings of the State-USAID Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). Let’s hope the 2010 National Security Strategy gets the development policy ball rolling.”

Globe and Mail Special Edition: The Africa Century

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
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Globe and Mail special edition coverYesterday, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE, Bono, and founder of Live Aid and activist, Bob Geldof, guest-edited Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper for a special edition – The Africa Century.  The edition includes news stories and op-eds from a wide range of contributors, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, maternal health advocate Christy Turlington Burns, and an interview with President Obama.  Given the upcoming G8 and G20 summits in Canada that will feature aid and development issues, Bono and Geldof wanted to explore whether the 21st century would be Africa’s century.  MFAN Partner ONE posted several interviews with Bono and Geldof discussing the issue on their blog that are worth viewing.  Below find excerpts from Bono’s interview with President Obama, in which the President discusses the Millennium Development Goals and implementation of the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.  Read the full special edition here.

Bono: You’re going to be in Canada in June for the G8. It’s not straightforward to get eight people to agree on anything, let alone eight countries. What do you think you can achieve?

President Obama: At this year’s summit, we need to recommit ourselves to making serious and sustainable progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. We can, and should, celebrate the progress we’ve made, but we also need to be frank about where all of us – developed and developing countries alike – have fallen short.

Bono: These are tough economic times at home. What do you say to people who question whether the U.S. should be investing time and resources in helping people in other countries?

President Obama: I can sum it up very simply: Development is a strategic and moral imperative for the United States. For too long, we have tried to manage extreme poverty and respond to its attendant consequences around the world: epidemic disease; political instability; the collapse of states; cross-border flows of refugees; and the absence of hope and opportunity that come with humanitarian crises. Our collective challenge is to pro-actively shape the world we want to see in the future by seeking, very deliberately, to accelerate development. The return on this investment is potentially enormous: a broader base for global prosperity, diminished military risk, and a more just and equitable world

Bono: Could you elaborate on your often-described three pillars of U.S. national security strategy – defence, diplomacy, and development – and how they interact?

President Obama: What’s new for us is our intention to elevate development so that it stands alongside defence and diplomacy as an equal. Defence, diplomacy and development need to reinforce each other, but each also brings a unique perspective and set of capabilities to the table. Together, they make us stronger, smarter and more effective.

Do you think this could be Africa’s century?  How do you respond to Obama’s rhetoric to “elevate development” in light of the leaked PSD draft?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Michelle Obama Applauds USAID Employees at Town Hall

Friday, May 7th, 2010
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Raj Shah Michelle ObamaFirst Lady of the United States Michelle Obama appeared at this week’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) town hall meeting to recognize and give thanks to agency employees and the work they do on behalf of millions around the world.

Mrs. Obama enumerated the many difficult challenges facing our country and the world as a whole, including global hunger, climate change, natural disasters, and the fast-rising youth population.  But in doing so, she spoke of the dedication and commitment demonstrated by USAID employees, from risking their safety working in dangerous environments, to spending long stretches of time away from family.  She also referenced the two decades’ worth of development work in Indonesia her mother-in-law, President Obama’s mother, took part in while with USAID.  “And you do it all,” she told the audience, “because you believe in the power of development to make America stronger in the world and improve the lives of those less fortunate.”

She listed improved basic health, sustainable agriculture, and democracy and human rights as major advances over the years as a result of USAID’s efforts.  She highlighted ongoing work in Haiti as a shining example, saying “…wherever I went, I was amazed and incredibly touched to hear the stories of your sacrifice and your compassion and your amazing partnership with the Haitian people and folks around the world in the aftermath of that disaster. It was clear from my visit that people valued the work and saw this country in a different way because of the work that you were doing.”

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