Join the Conversation

October 6, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This afternoon, the USGLC is hosting a web chat with Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides. As the man in charge of the State Department’s budget, Deputy Secretary Nides will participate in this unique live video chat to discuss the latest on the International Affairs Budget and how it impacts our national and economic security. Be sure to tune in at at 4:30 p.m. today to be a part of it! Yesterday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies held an event on the importance of the Multilateral Development Banks, featuring Representative Gary Miller (R-CA), Undersecretary of the Treasury Lael Brainard, and the USGLC’s own Mark Green. Click here to watch the video.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

In a Big Risk-Taking Mood? (Karl Hofmann, Huffington Post)
This autumn, as Congress enters tense budget discussions, U.S. taxpayers are asking legitimate questions. Amid economic instability and worries at home, Americans are scrutinizing where their tax dollars are going and who they are helping. In particular, Americans often ask, why do we spend so many of our tax dollars on foreign aid? And what do we get for it? These questions are appropriate and important to our democracy.  But so are informed answers.

Who’s in the News

The National-Security Case for Free Trade (Tom Donilon, Wall Street Journal)

On Monday, President Obama submitted three critical free trade agreements to Congress and asked both chambers to advance them expeditiously. Passage of these agreements is a matter not just of economic and commercial opportunity but also of national security. With the passage of the agreements, the United States will signal our commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with our ally South Korea and our partners Colombia and Panama, to revitalizing our export sector, and to enhancing our economic strength in key markets

Mr. Dommsday (Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at the Pentagon as a man who matched the times, a shrewd insider Democrats viewed as possessing the will and the weight to tame the sprawling defense budget. But in only a few short months, Panetta has emerged instead as Washington’s sharpest critic of further cuts — an unexpected Mr. Doomsday of the supercommittee deficit drama.

Smart Power

India announces $35 tablet computer to help lift villagers out of poverty (Associated Press)

India introduced a cheap tablet computer Wednesday, saying it would deliver modern technology to the countryside to help lift villagers out of poverty.  The computer, called Aakash, or “sky” in Hindi, is the latest in a series of “world’s cheapest” innovations in India that include a 100,000 rupee ($2,040) compact Nano car, a 750 rupee ($15) water purifier and $2,000 open-heart surgery.

Congress and Foreign Aid (David Gartner, Brookings Institution)
As reported in a story by the New York Times, unprecedented cuts to America’s global investments are currently being considered by the United States Congress. The House is proposing cuts of $12 billion, or 20 percent of the president’s request for 2012, while the Senate is proposing cuts that are smaller but still potentially devastating. Without these vital investments, substantial progress made in the fight against disease and poverty over the last decade will be jeopardized. Sustaining significant investments in building a better world is critical to supporting America’s ideals and protecting America’s interests in a turbulent 21st century.

Party warns of imminent famine in east Sudan (Abdelmonein Abu Edris Ali, Google News)

Government inaction will lead to famine in eastern Sudan in the coming days because of water shortages, poor crops and spiraling food prices, regional party the Beja Congress said on Tuesday.  “If the government does not do anything to solve the problem in the coming days, there will be a famine in eastern Sudan,” party spokesman Salah Barkawin told AFP.

House Panel Approves U.N. Population Fund Measure (Joanna Anderson, CQ)
A House panel advanced a GOP proposal to block U.S. funding for the U.N. Population Fund after a heated debate over the development agency’s role in China. Republican critics of the U.N. fund (UNFPA) claimed it supports China’s controversial “One Child” policy, which includes coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization programs. But Democrats disputed that assertion and accused GOP panel members of hindering initiatives that help poor women and children in order to score political points with their base.

Foreign aid ‘sign of strength’: TV broadcast is given over to ‘cash for Africa’ appeal (Kirsty Walker, Daily Mail)
David Cameron insisted yesterday that his decision to pour billions more into foreign aid at a time of austerity was a sign of ‘moral strength’. The Prime Minister confronted critics within his own party by insisting that everyone in Britain should be proud that ‘we never turn our backs on the world’s poorest’.

Social networks used to counter al Qaeda (Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times)
Anwar al-Awlaki may be dead, but the war he helped al Qaeda wage for the hearts and minds of Muslims continues — and on the battlefield of social media, the United States is fighting back with what critics say is a tiny and ineffectual army. Fewer than 10 diplomats make up the State Department’s digital-outreach team, which is charged with countering al Qaeda’s recruitment efforts via social networks, blog posts and Internet videos, according to current and former officials.

Anti-Trafficking Measure Endorsed by House Panel (Joanna Anderson, CQ)
The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday signed off on a renewal of a law aimed at fighting human trafficking and assisting its victims.  The bipartisan measure is the fourth reauthorization of a 2000 anti-trafficking law (PL 106-386) championed by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith, a senior member of the panel.  By voice vote, the committee approved a two-year renewal (HR 2830) of the law that would authorize $358 million for a variety of U.S. government programs that deal with human trafficking.


Politics/Foreign Policy

In GOP campaign, foreign policy becomes economic (Bradley Klapper, Times Herald-Record)
From the rise of China to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the revolutions of the Arab Spring to foreign aid for Pakistan, the Republican Party’s presidential hopefuls are framing their foreign policy positions against the backdrop of America’s crippling debt and high unemployment.  The question is no longer necessarily, What should we do? Instead, they’re asking, What can we afford? Or, sometimes, What’s in it for us?

Congress strikes back against Obama’s child soldiers’ waivers (Josh Rogin, The Cable)
The Cable reported yesterday that President Barack Obama waived penalties on several countries that recruit child soldiers for the second year in a row. Today, lawmakers moved to ensure that the administration won’t keep funding governments that use child soldiers next year.  The administration waived penalties mandated under the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) against Yemen, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).