Smart Power for the Holiday Season

December 22, 2010 By Melissa Silverman

As a midnight deadline for funding the government approached, last night, the House approved the same short-term continuing resolution (CR) as the Senate, sending the bill to the President’s desk for signature. This measure will fund the government through March 4, and will fund the International Affairs Budget at $52.9 billion, 10% lower than the President’s FY11 request.


Who’s In the News

Rohrabacher put in charge of House foreign affairs investigations (Josh Rogin, The Cable blog)

As part of her drive to revamp the House Foreign Affairs Committee, incoming chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has named Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as her point man on oversight and investigations related to the Obama administration. “I will be establishing mechanisms for Americans to blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse in State Department and Foreign Aid operations by welcoming anonymous tips,” Ros-Lehtinen said, in announcing that Rohrabacher would chair the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Tuesday.

Smart Power

Opinion: Security Can’t Stop With DoD,  U.S. Must Build a Comprehensive Approach (Sherri Goodman and Eric Edelman, Defense News) The newly released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) is a welcome initiative by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to provide some strategic planning horizons for U.S. diplomats. That document correctly focuses on using the contributions of all U.S. agencies operating overseas and coordinating their efforts in-country.

QDDR: no bull’s-eye, but generally on-target (Stephen Johnson, Foreign Policy)

On Dec. 15, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rolled out the State Department’s first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) at an internal town hall meeting — a year behind schedule. No surprise, it turns out to be more of a public relations document than a disciplined strategic review. Yet if it doesn’t score a bull-eye, the QDDR at least hits an outer ring by describing an ambitious and needed reform agenda.

State Department review promises transparency, civilian ‘face’ (Charles Clark, Government Executive)

In a bid to streamline diplomacy and foreign aid, the State Department will “fundamentally change our management approach by turning to the expertise of other federal agencies where appropriate — before engaging private contractors,” according to the department’s inaugural quadrennial review. The central goals laid out in the review, titled “Leading Through Civilian Power,” are accountability through transparency and the primacy of nonmilitary engagement in development and crisis resolution, officials said. “Civilian power has to be the first face of American power, supported by our military and in partnership with our military, but it’s civilians who have to lead,” review director Anne-Marie Slaughter told reporters during a Dec. 17 conference call.

Transparency will make aid work better (The Guardian Poverty Matters Blog)

This month the US Agency for International Development said it expects to publish details of its aid programmes in a form accessible to people in developing countries and US taxpayers. The EU Foreign Affairs Council has also agreed that member states will publish details of their aid in an internationally comparable format.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Democrats up in arms over hints of reduced aid for Israel (Hilary Krieger, Jerusalem Post)

Democrats are blasting the prospect that a GOP-led House of Representatives might trim aid to Israel or consider it separately from the rest of the foreign aid budget, responding to comments that incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen made last week to the Post, which raised the prospect of some reductions to Israel aid as part of the budget reductions the new GOP Congress plans to pursue when it comes into office in January.

African Farmers Displaced as Investors Move In (Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times)

The half-dozen strangers who descended on this remote West African village brought its hand-to-mouth farmers alarming news: their humble fields, tilled from one generation to the next, were now controlled by Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and the farmers would all have to leave.