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Archive for the ‘White House’ Category

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.”


MFAN Statement: Leaked White House Development Document Has Strong Reform Elements

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
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Yesterday,’s Josh Rogin published a draft version of the National Security Council’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7), which is a landmark review of the strategy and structure behind U.S. development and foreign assistance efforts.  Rogin’s article notes that the ambitious recommendations in the document set off one or possibly multiple rounds of dynamic debate in government about who should have authority over U.S. development efforts.  President Obama is said to be awaiting the final report on PSD-7 from the NSC.  See our review of Rogin’s other reporting on development here.

MFAN released the following statement on the publication of the document:

MFAN Statement: Draft National Security Council Development Vision Includes Strong Reform Elements

May 3, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

The National Security Council (NSC) vision for development that was published in the media today would help to meet President Obama’s campaign pledge to ensure “development is established and endures as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” while making our foreign assistance more effective and accountable.  Enacting the changes recommended in the draft document would allow the U.S. to resume its historic leadership position of providing hope and opportunity for the world’s poorest citizens by strengthening our ability to save lives, empower people to take control of their own destinies, and stabilize communities that are vulnerable to poverty, disease, and extremism.

The most important features of the Presidential Study Directive-7 highlighted in the media report include:

  • Creating and periodically reviewing a National Strategy for Global Development
  • Returning policy, budget, and field authority to USAID
  • Including the USAID Administrator at relevant NSC meetings
  • Convening a Development Policy Committee to coordinate Executive Branch development activities
  • Helping recipient countries assume ownership, responsibility, and accountability on development
  • Bolstering measurement and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance investments and demanding more of both from implementers and recipients
  • Forging a new partnership with Congress on development policy and practice

We believe the document could go further toward ensuring that the discipline of development is strong and distinct, specifically through elaborating in what ways and under what circumstances development and diplomacy need to be integrated and mutually reinforcing versus when development needs to stand alone, and hope the recommendations in the document will be firmly implemented across the U.S. government.  We also urge the Administration to engage with Congressional leaders now to translate this vision into an anticipated update of the antiquated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.  President Obama’s leadership will be needed on both fronts in order to “reestablish the United States as the global leader on international development.”

MFAN Principal Ray Offenheiser: ‘Aid Needs Help’

Monday, May 3rd, 2010
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Ray Offenheiser 1MFAN Principal and President of Oxfam America Ray Offenheiser makes the case for why the Obama Administration needs a National Strategy for Global Development in a new oped in Foreign Policy.  He argues that before the outdated foreign assistance apparatus can be reformed — and in light of operational reforms likely to come out of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) — the President needs to clearly articulate his vision for U.S. global development efforts.  This vision, based on findings from the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7) will then serve as an overarching strategy to guide reform efforts.  See excerpts from Offenheiser’s piece below:

“The fact that one-third of the planet — 2 billion people — remains trapped in poverty poses a singular challenge to the interests and values of the United States. Obama agrees, and has framed development as one of the three pillars of U.S. national security, along with defense and diplomacy. But his government is still trying to address this 21st-century challenge with a 20th-century toolkit.”

“By merely tinkering with the existing system without a clear a vision for what U.S. development efforts should achieve, the Obama administration could end up making things worse, not better. Each new plan, legislative proposal, initiative, or objective further confuses the existing system. Together, they represent a failure of leadership and strategy that hobbles U.S. efforts to fight global poverty.”

“The administration needs to step back and deliver a clear articulation of mission and strategy to guide reform — a National Strategy for Global Development. For those of us in the development community, such a strategy should answer a few basic questions. What are the intended outcomes of U.S. global development policy? How do we know we are investing in the right things? How do we know if development assistance efforts are successful? And how can we best help poor countries — and poor people — lead their own development?”

“Obama’s strategic goal should be to support those citizens and governments who are working together to achieve private-sector driven economic growth that is broad-based, equitable, and sustainable. The strategy’s scope should not be limited to foreign aid, but should reflect the impact of other global policies, such as trade and migration, on development outcomes. The strategy should link global development and humanitarian response both to American values and to U.S. national interests. Importantly, it should clarify that it is always in the U.S. interest to adhere to the principles of effective development and humanitarian response and to seek sustainable development outcomes even in those settings where the United States needs to employ development aid for diplomatic or defense purposes.”

Read the full piece here.