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.
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 former Secretary of Defense Gates has said, “You would find…extraordinary support across the entire Defense Department” for the State Department “and for their budget,” a fact that been made readily apparent over the last month. In written and oral testimony in Congress, our military’s most senior officers have made it clear that the Administration’s proposed cuts would not only make their jobs harder, but that a strong, fully resourced International Affairs Budget is vital to an effective national security strategy.
Last week, the Pentagon issued a security warning to commercial shipping companies regarding international piracy—following a recent spike in attacks off the coast of Somalia. While this should cause American shipping companies to be on high alert with nearly one-third of the world’s commercial ships passing through this region, it is perhaps more indicative of how closely tied global security is to the world’s current humanitarian emergencies.
America’s leadership in institutions like World Bank and IMF is critical to influencing the agenda on global economic growth and development— which, in turn, shapes opportunities for American businesses to invest around the world. At next week’s World Bank/IMF Spring Meeting, businesses and NGOs will join finance ministers and development leaders from around the world to address today’s global challenges and opportunities. What will America’s voice be, given recent proposed budget cuts?
Many U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs don’t often make headlines — for good reason. Just as we don’t hear about the wars that were prevented, we don’t read about the diseases that were stopped before they became the next Ebola, bird flu, or Zika — debilitating, fatal pandemics that caused severe burdens on livelihoods and economies and posed threats to global security and stability. The USAID-funded Preparedness and Response project, or P&R, is active in 16 countries, including Uganda, to establish the coordination required across many sectors to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging diseases and other international threats like antimicrobial resistance.
$10 billion—that’s the estimated amount of money terrorist organizations profit from illegal wildlife trade every year. It may come as a surprise, but illegal wildlife trading on the black market is a major source of revenue for terrorist and rebel networks around the world. Animals like elephants, rhinos, tigers, turtles, and pangolins are being poached at alarming rates and sold to buyers as high-end novelty items, medicine, and pets.
The people of Colombia surprised the world this weekend by narrowly rejecting— by .04%— a peace deal to end the conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The reasons for the rejection largely revolved around the issue of transitional justice, as the agreement would have granted many rebel fighters amnesty if they confessed their crimes, leaving some Colombians feeling that FARC leaders were escaping justice. While emergency negotiations have been restarted, both sides have vowed that they will not return to fighting.
This year’s presidential debates will be different. While national security has had its own debate in the past, “Securing America” has been announced as one of the topics in the first and widely anticipated debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and will also be part of the other debates. In the wake of domestic terror attacks and global conversation about “uncertainty and unease and strife” at the UN General Assembly, what should we expect to hear on America’s role in the world?