Secretaries Past and Present

April 21, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined former Secretary Henry Kissinger for “Conversations on Diplomacy” moderated by Charlie Rose of PBS. The Secretaries discussed the issues of the day and reflected on their experiences as America’s top diplomat. Also yesterday, the World Bank launched an interactive Mapping for Results Platform with detailed information about development projects around the world, to promote transparency and accountability.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Trump would focus on foreign affairs to rein in US debt (Mike Lillis, the Hill)

Donald Trump said this week he could eliminate the nation’s deficit troubles without raising taxes by cutting defense spending or tinkering with Medicare. The real estate mogul, who’s mulling a run at the presidency next year, said it’s not those domestic policies — but the actions of foreign entities like China and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — that are at the root of America’s fiscal woes.

Insiders’ choice for Department of Defense: Leon Panetta (Josh Gerstein, Politico)

It’s a measure of CIA Director Leon Panetta’s status as the consummate Washington insider that, virtually overnight, it became accepted wisdom that he will be President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of Defense. Never mind that he’ll be 73 in June, that he has been commuting to his West Coast home for the past two years and there’s no word that he’s actually been offered the job.

Hillary Clinton (Joseph Nye, Time Magazine 100 Most Influential)

When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, she pledged a “smart power” policy that meant striking up a close working relationship with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while reshaping the State Department to emphasize development and people-powered diplomacy. She deployed her personal star power in direct contacts with the public overseas, speaking clearly about human rights and freedom of expression on the Internet.

Smart Power

Becker students rally to support humanitarian aid (Jacqueline Reis, Telegram & Gazette)

Their work started with a letter-writing campaign to make sure legislators didn’t cut the money for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR. While those funds are now safe, Mr. McGovern and the students fear that money could be vulnerable to future cuts. Foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the federal budget, he said, and he is proud to see it used to help children such as the baby he saw while visiting Ethiopia, which would have had little chance at life were it not for American-supported food and medicine.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Stimson releases new report on US security assistance (Rebecca Williams, the Will and the Wallet)

As the Arab world struggles to emerge from oppressive, generations-old autocracies, America’s robust program to train and equip foreign militaries has become a focus of attention. The impact of US security assistance to the region is ambiguous, at best. Providing military equipment and training has helped keep autocrats in power but may have also provided us with a vital communication link to the Egyptian military as the crisis evolved in that country.

China cites positive impact in first report on aid (AP)

The gathering pace of Chinese aid is evident in many corners of the developing world. It is building roads and railways around Africa, textile mills in Syria, cement plants in Peru and bridges in Bangladesh. While welcomed by recipient governments, it has drawn fire from the U.S. and other Western donors, who say Beijing’s lack of transparency is contributing to corruption and mismanagement.

Ken Adelman’s Foreign Aid Myopia (Jim Arkedis, Progressive Fix)

Writing in response to Joe Nye’s article on the importance of “smart power,” his rebuttal piece in Foreign Policy paints is a myopic view of American foreign aid, and in Adelman’s rush to end the practice, manages to throw the baby out with the bathwater.