Liberia has reached a critical milestone of progress. Today’s inauguration of President George Weah, succeeding President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, marks the first time since 1944 the country has seen a peaceful transfer of power. While credit for this historic achievement rests with the Liberian people and their quest for democracy, we must also acknowledge the impact of U.S. development assistance and democracy support.
With time running out for Congress to meet a midnight funding deadline, the possibility of a government shutdown looms large. And though many in Washington are holding out hope for a last-minute deal to keep the government open, it’s worth taking a look at how a shutdown would impact America’s diplomatic and development programs overseas.
As the international community gears up to tackle the emerging challenges of 2018, two enduring problems must first be addressed: ongoing violent conflicts and subsequent humanitarian emergencies. Since 2010, state-on-state conflict has increased by 60 percent, and conflict within countries has increased by 125 percent. As a result of this dangerous trend, the number of people forced to flee their homes is at an all-time high since World War II.
With mounting challenges overseas– from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, to devastating famines, to tension with North Korea – this year has shown us that American global leadership is more important now than ever before. And as the year draws to a close, we’ve rounded up our top ten blogs of 2017 – the inspiring stories of U.S. foreign assistance, it’s impact around the world and here at home.
2017 brought a steady stream of challenges and changes to U.S. foreign policy and development assistance – from a new Administration taking the reins, to a budget proposal that sent shockwaves through Washington, to a steady drumbeat of support for American global leadership. We’ve gathered 12 of the top stories from the past year – one from each month – that you won’t want to miss.
Last month, former presidential candidate and liberal icon Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) traveled to America’s heartland to lay out his vision of a progressive foreign policy. Speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Sanders’ hour-long speech outlining how he views America’s role in the world was the most comprehensive of his career to date.
While the coverage of President Trump’s first speech at the United Nations General Assembly has focused on his defense of his “America First” message, stress on “sovereignty,” and threat to totally destroy North Korea, close listeners may have also heard him mention America’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, stop preventable disease like malaria, and advance the rights of women and girls around the world for the first time in office.
Democracy is hard work. Whether it’s Venezuela’s descent toward authoritarianism, Kenya’s dismissal of widely-accepted election results, or growing fears of ethnic cleansing just years into Myanmar’s first-ever civilian-led government – even calling it “hard work” can seem like an understatement.
During Vice President Pence’s recent trip to Latin America, he commented on the situation in Venezuela by saying “we’re seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our eyes.” In his speech, Pence highlighted the sharp contrast between the U.S. allies and partners he visited – such as Colombia – with the increasingly isolated Venezuela.
As Secretary Tillerson and the Foreign and Civil Service Officers he leads around the world face unprecedented challenges—including the largest number of refugees since World War II, four famines affecting more than 20 million, and the risk of another global pandemic—he should consider building on the success of his predecessors, who recognized the new challenges our country faces, rather than ignoring their contributions.