China’s Growing Influence

March 30, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, an op-ed from USGLC’s Maine State Advisory Committee Member Richard MacIntyre makes a persuasive case for the International Affairs Budget in the Bangor Daily News. MacIntyre, a former Peace Corps volunteer, writes that “When the U.S. is actively engaged in the development of other countries, we create new trading partners and new markets for our goods and services. To do this, however, we need to have a strong and effective international affairs budget.”  Michael Gerson warns today in The Washington Post about China’s growing influence in Africa and why even in an economic downturn, America should not retreat from engagement with the world.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Still Crusading, but Now on the Inside (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times)

Samantha Power took the podium at Columbia University on Monday night sounding hoarse and looking uncomfortable. In two hours, President Obama would address the nation on Libya and Ms. Power, the fiery human rights crusader who now advises Mr. Obama on foreign policy, did not want to get out in front of the boss.

Why I Won’t Vote to Raise the Debt Limit (Sen. Marco Rubio, Wall Street Journal)

Everyone in Washington knows how to cut spending. The time to start is now. Our generation’s greatest challenge is an economy that isn’t growing, alongside a national debt that is. If we fail to confront this, our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a country worse off than the one their parents were given.

Smart Power

Why international development matters (Richard MacIntyre, Bangor Daily News)

Successful development projects and broad economic growth have helped many countries transition from assistance recipient to assistance donor. When the U.S. is actively engaged in the development of other countries, we create new trading partners and new markets for our goods and services. To do this, however, we need to have a strong and effective international affairs budget.

China’s African investments: Who benefits? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post)

The skyline of this city — what little there is of it — is a Chinese creation. Chinese money built the Parliament building. A $100 million, Chinese-funded hotel and conference center is rising. The Chinese government is constructing a soccer stadium, a decidedly popular move. It is difficult to argue that these shiny new buildings are more urgent development priorities than, say, fighting malaria or providing a daily meal to children in rural schools. But the Chinese don’t even pretend this is the case. These highly visible investments, increasingly unavoidable across Africa, are designed to buy influence with governments.

Now is not the time to cut critical programs to fight hunger and disease (Richard Cizik, The Hill)

Development efforts like Feed the Future and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) are vital initiatives to invest in long-term solutions to global hunger. These programs currently help farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries to grow more food. They are investing in countries like Haiti and Ethiopia, among the most vulnerable in the world, helping millions of people to feed their families and reducing the need for more costly emergency food assistance down the road. Suggested cuts would also cripple our national efforts to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Thirteen million children in sub-Saharan Africa have been orphaned by AIDS.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Aid group to see leadership changes (Jerry Hagstrom, AgWeek)

The Obama administration’s Feed the Future program to encourage agricultural development in Third World countries will get new leadership, and the bureau that runs it will be reorganized, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said recently.

Democrats pessimistic about avoiding shutdown (Manu Raju and Glenn Thrush, Politico)

The White House is intensifying negotiations with House Republicans — including dispatching Vice President Joe Biden as an emergency emissary — but congressional Democrats increasingly fear that it may be too little, too late to avert a government shutdown. “We’re probably looking at a shutdown,” said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Obama should support those fighting for freedom, and conservatives should argue for victory (William Kristol,The Weekly Standard)

The United States really should have the backs of those fighting for freedom. How willing the president is to overcome his prejudices and to reorient his whole attitude toward the Middle East and the world, we don’t know. But we can hope for change.

Cut foreign aid budget now (Dick Morris, the Hill)

As the CR talks between the House Republicans and the administration and Senate Democrats near their deadline, the House negotiators should put America’s foreign aid budget on the table. With the Democrats reportedly willing to cut about half of the $61 billion the GOP has sought, much of the balance could come from a moratorium in paying out the $50 billion of foreign economic and military aid the United States dispenses every year. Rather than engage in a numerical debate, the Republicans should make the fight about whether to cut the foreign aid budget. Who will defend foreign aid when we have a $1.6 trillion deficit?