Who’s In the News
Karzai Stands By Private Security Ban (Mari Abi-Habib – Wall Street Journal)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is standing by his decree to dissolve the private security companies some aid organizations use for protection, although a delegation of Western diplomats warned Sunday that huge amounts of aid and development money could be affected. Several international aid organizations are drawing up plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, worried about the ability of Afghan security forces to protect their staffs, potentially taking with them billions of dollars in development cash as well as jobs for ordinary Afghans.
JTA: Cantor proposes separating Israel aid from foreign ops budget (Laura Rozen – Politico)
House Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) tells JTA in an interview that should Republicans take the House of Representatives next month, he would propose separating U..S. aid to Israel from the foreign operations budget, which the GOP may vote to defund…While Cantor’s intent seems to be to exempt from future partisan budget battles the $30 billion in U.S. foreign and security assistance the Obama administration has pledged to Israel over the next ten years, some pro-Israel advocates are getting increasingly nervous about the coming Congress. “This gimmick doesn’t bode well for keeping aid to Israel the uncontroversial proposition it is in Congress today,” one Democratic Hill staffer said. “Unfortunately, in reality, this measure would endanger aid to Israel and put partisan Republican interests over the interests of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Ban on private guards threatens Afghan aid work (Deb Riechmann – Associated Press)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called President Hamid Karzai on Saturday to persuade his government to modify its imminent ban on private security companies, which threatens to shut down or stall billions of dollars in development projects across the nation. Clinton suggested formulating a joint plan to steadily phase out private security companies without disrupting the work of contractors who employ private guards to protect their workers, projects and facilities, said P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department. The telephone call was part of intense negotiations that U.S. and other Western diplomats are conducting with Afghan officials this weekend over Karzai’s decision to shut down private security contractors by Dec. 17. He claims the private guards are undermining his nation’s army and police, and wants Afghan security forces to take on the job of providing protection for the aid workers. Western officials argue that the hand-over must be phased in so projects are not disrupted.
Curing the Ills of America’s Top Foreign Aid Agency (Mark Landler – New York Times)
A few days after Rajiv Shah was sworn in as the head of the United States Agency for International Development, he stopped by to see its rapid response center, a high-tech command post for disaster relief, which on that day stood empty and still. Twelve hours later, an earthquake devastated Haiti, and for the next two months the center became Dr. Shah’s round-the-clock home. A brainy, 37-year-old physician with little government experience, Dr. Shah suddenly found himself coordinating a desperate emergency relief effort under the gaze of President Obama. The pace has barely let up since: catastrophic floods in Pakistan, the surge of aid workers into Afghanistan, a top-to-bottom review of American foreign assistance — all have heavily involved Dr. Shah, turning him into one of the administration’s most visible foreign policy players. But for this politically astute son of Indian immigrants from Ann Arbor, Mich., who is now the highest-ranking Indian-American in the administration, it is his ambitious campaign to rebuild USAID that will ultimately determine his success or failure in Washington.
D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution (Nicholas Kristof – New York Times)
Like so many highly trained young women these days, Elizabeth Scharpf has choices. She could be working in a Manhattan office tower with her Harvard Business School classmates, soaring through the ranks as a banker or business executive and aspiring to become a senator or a C.E.O. someday. After all, there’s no question that women around the world enjoy opportunities that simply didn’t exist a few decades ago. Yet the women exerting the greatest pressure for change often aren’t the presidents and tycoons but those toiling further down the pyramid, driven by a passion to create a better world. And in particular, a better world for women…It’s all about what might be called Do-It-Yourself Foreign Aid, because it starts with the proposition that it’s not only presidents and United Nations officials who chip away at global challenges. Passionate individuals with great ideas can do the same, especially in the age of the Internet and social media.
The World from The Hill: Foreign policy takes back seat in midterm campaign (Bridget Johnson – The Hill)
Foreign policy has played a noticeably subdued role on the campaign trail, despite myriad serious international issues that will likely face the next Congress. It’s a stark contrast to just two years ago when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars weighed heavier on voters’ minds and candidates were scrutinized for their foreign policy acumen. President Obama campaigned on a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and reminded Americans of that pledge on Aug. 31 when he brought combat operations there to an end. Vowing to concentrate U.S. efforts on battling al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Obama implemented a surge — which drew criticism from the left wing in his party — and a promised drawdown of coalition forces beginning in July 2011.