A New Team

April 29, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday afternoon, President Obama introduced some new players to the National Security Team as he nominated Leon Panetta to take over at the Pentagon, General David Petraeus to the CIA, Lt. General John Allen to replace Petraeus in Afghanistan, and Ryan Crocker to handle the civilian side as Ambassador to Afghanistan.   Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen have gone to bat for the International Affairs Budget, and we’re optimistic Panetta and the new team will do the same.  Stay tuned for a detailed analysis of each of the major players.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Santorum Attacks Obama on Defense Cuts, Argues for International Aid (Lindsey Boerma, National Journal)

In a 10-point plan to “re-establish America’s standing in the world,” Santorum called on the government to fulfill its commitment to humanitarian aid, particularly in Africa, calling it a “pro-life foreign policy.” “It is one of our best international investments,” he said, citing past U.S. relief in the form of AIDS prevention and anti-viral drugs, “especially considering less than 1 percent of our budget goes to such foreign aid.”

How America Must Respond to the Massacre in Syria (Marco Rubio, FP)

In recent days, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used its army to murder hundreds of innocent civilians as part of a vicious campaign of violence against unarmed Syrian demonstrators. What we are witnessing in Syria is another tragic outrage in the Middle East that requires immediate condemnation backed by specific measures from the United States and the international community.

Smart Power

Five myths about foreign aid (John Norris, the Washington Post)

Foreign aid has few domestic allies. Aid programs weathered steep cuts in the recent budget deal in Congress, and a plan from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would slash spending on international affairs and foreign assistance by an eye-popping 44 percent by 2016. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called for the abolishment of aid programs, including to Israel, and protests in the Middle East have evoked sharp questions about the effectiveness and goals of U.S. aid.

Why Reforming U.S. Foreign Assistance is More Important than Ever (Connie Veillette, CGD)

In the midst of a shaky economic recovery and the challenge of reducing budget deficits, aid reform is more important than ever.  Policy makers need to be convinced that U.S. foreign assistance is effective, efficient, and designed to accomplish well-articulated goals.

A cheat sheet for Congress: How to get the most out of foreign aid (Raymond C. Offenheiser, the Hill)

Foreign aid has a long history of boosting the American economy:  11 of the 15 largest importers of American goods and services are countries that graduated from U.S. foreign assistance. When poor countries put policies in place that promote equitable and inclusive growth, they start to become consumers of U.S. goods, which then creates American jobs.

Politics/Foreign Policy

U.S. military dismayed by delays in 3 key development projects in Afghanistan (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, The Washington Post)

U.S. aid officials have been forced to delay three large development programs intended to support the American military strategy in southern Afghanistan at a critical, make-or-break moment in the war. The initiatives, which are supposed to support local governments, agricultural development and job-training efforts, have been held up by bureaucratic missteps and funding cuts by Congress, according to senior U.S. officials. As a result, the programs will not begin until much of the summer fighting season has concluded.

Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Reform (Roxanne Stachowski, International Center for Research on Women)

Recent years have brought remarkable progress in the way the U.S. government alleviates poverty, eradicates disease and drives sustainable economic growth around the world. President George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and President Barack Obama’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development have improved the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance efforts by demanding accountability and harmonizing the myriad departments that govern foreign aid.

Palestinian Authority, Hamas Merger Would Lead to US Aid Suspension, Legislators Say (Ivy Mungcal, DEVEX)

Three high-ranking U.S. legislators have warned that the Palestinian Authority could lose U.S. financial assistance in the wake of a reported reconciliation between the Fatah political party led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas, which the U.S. State Department classifies as a terrorist group. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said April 27 that the reported agreement between the two political parties “means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the Palestinian Authority government.”