Sean Hansen comes to the USGLC after working on Capitol Hill in the office of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, where he assisted on foreign policy issues. Prior to that, he served as Policy Intern at the USGLC. Sean’s interest in international affairs developed from summers spent sailing the world aboard an 18th century replica tall-ship, the HMS Bounty. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he specialized in conflict resolution and U.S. foreign policy, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in international development at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Sean is a proud Long Islander, hailing from Setauket, NY.
In El Salvador, Lula Mena’s hand-made jewelry business is thriving. Thanks to critical business training and export assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Lula now exports her goods to eight countries. But the impact of Lula’s success extends far beyond her own family.
At the heart of USAID Administrator Mark Green’s vision for the agency is “to end the need for its existence,” and a desire to transition countries that may no longer need development assistance to a new relationship with the United States. But against the backdrop of the proposed 32% cut to the International Affairs Budget, there have been some concerns that “transitions” could serve as a cover for cutting aid budgets and closing missions.
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.
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.
Congress will soon determine the levels of U.S. assistance available to Mosul and other global humanitarian crises. Rebuilding Mosul will be a critical test and an enormous challenge, yet the future of Iraq— and the future of America’s presence abroad— may well depend on what emerges from the city’s rubble.
After sailing through his nomination hearing with strong bipartisan support, senators on the Foreign Relations Committee and other development leaders have called for a speedy confirmation for Ambassador Mark Green as the 18th Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. While he will face a host of other challenges— including the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, and a budget proposal that seeks drastic cuts to USAID— he remains hopeful about the opportunities and improvements that have been made at the agency.
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.
Today, the Administration today released its FY18 “skinny” budget, which would slash the State Department and USAID by 31% from current levels, cut the Treasury Department’s International Programs by 35%, and eliminate five agencies associated with the International Affairs Budget. The draconian and disproportionate cuts to these programs—which have long been key pillars of U.S. national security—would take funding levels for development and diplomacy programs back to levels not seen since 9/11. Here are just a few of the many Congressional leaders who have spoken out against these cuts, or in support of America’s civilian tools of development and diplomacy.
While we wait to see who will lead the MCC and USAID in the Trump Administration, one thing is certain: Africa should be seen as both an opportunity as well as a challenge to America’s efforts to reduce global poverty and promote economic growth. If the Trump Administration seeks to leave a lasting legacy by improving global stability and economic growth, Africa should be at the center of its plans.
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.