“The Bold Act of Leadership”

February 3, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Leaders from the nation’s foreign policy, NGO and business community gathered last night in Washington to hear a groundbreaking speech from Bill Gates and honor former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge for their public service and continued advocacy of smart power tools of development and diplomacy. In his address, Gates said “The investments we make today in the developing world will help create the jobs of tomorrow here in America. Right now, the tough choice is to maintain foreign assistance, not to cut it. Right now, the bold act of leadership is to defend spending on key international programs, not to attack it.” In addition to Secretaries Ridge and Albright, special guests included Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and ambassadors from more than a dozen countries.  Many thanks to the wonderful dinner Co-Chairs, Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE, and Robin Lineberger, CEO Federal Government Services, Deloitte LLP and our master of ceremonies, ABC News and NPR Correspondent Cokie Roberts.

Must Reads

USGLC In the News

Bill Gates urges U.S. not to cut overseas aid (Andrew Quinn – Reuters)

The United States should reject Republican demands for a dramatically lower overseas aid budget, which could threaten both U.S. strategic and humanitarian goals, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said on Wednesday. “It’s important now that we talk about why, in tough times, these budget choices are still very, very wise choices for the taxpayer to make,” Gates told Reuters in an interview.

Bill Gates urges Washington not to cut foreign aid (Joseph Krauss, AFP)

Microsoft co-founder turned billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Wednesday urged a Washington bent on slashing spending to step up aid to the world’s poorest countries. “Looking at these issues as a businessman, I believe that investing in the world’s poorest people is the smartest way our government spends money,” Gates said at a dinner held by the US Global Leadership Coalition.

Seen and Heard in DC (Karin Tanabe, Politico Click)

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge were honored at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition tribute dinner at the Ritz Carlton Wednesday night. Bill Gates, the night’s keynote speaker, took to the podium and urged Washington to increase foreign aid to the countries that need it most. “The investments we make today in the developing world will help create the jobs of tomorrow here in America,” Gates said to the 750 people gathered.

Smart Power

Hillary Clinton to diplomats: Respect ‘civilian power’ (Jennifer Epstein – Politico)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for stronger U.S. diplomatic efforts in countries where tensions run high as unrest continues to grow on the streets of Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. “What’s going on today — recent events in Egypt and certainly in that broader region — remind us all how crucial it is to have top-notch leadership on the ground and how quickly the ground can shift under our feet,” she said Wednesday morning at an unprecedented gathering that brought most of the 260 U.S. ambassadors posted around the world to Washington.

AID Has Never Been a Better Investment (Perry Yeatman – The Huffington Post)

At Davos last week, I was lucky enough to participate in a couple sessions where the talk was about development. My purpose for being in the sessions was to advocate for investment in sustainable agriculture as one of the best ways to support scalable and sustainable economic development. But I left with an even bigger idea than that.

On Capitol Hill, Rajiv Shah Busy Lobbying for Robust USAID Budget (Ivy Mungcal – DEVEX)

The top U.S. aid official has been visiting key lawmakers on Capitol Hill to quell the increasing appetite for development aid cuts and solicit support for a robust U.S. foreign affairs budget ahead of the 2012 appropriations cycle, which is set to begin this month with the release of President Barack Obama’s budget request.

Politics/Foreign Policy

House looks to trim U.N. funds or foreign aid next week (Erik Wasson – The Hill)

House Republican leadership is looking to vote next week to cut either U.S. spending on the United Nations or on foreign aid, the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Wednesday. There are three options on the table posted at the GOP’s “You Cut” website. The public can vote for its preferred option, and Cantor has pledged to bring the winner to the floor for a vote.

Post-Mubarak, Questions of Aid Get Complicated (Billy House and Chris Strohm, National Journal)

The complicated implications of the U.S. relationship with a post-Mubarak Egypt have begun to emerge, as leading members of Congress on Tuesday raised the possibility of withholding foreign aid to Egypt, especially if an Islamic fundamentalist group rises to power in a new government running the country.

Egypt working group: Freeze U.S. military aid to Egypt (Laura Rozen – Politico)

A day after the Egyptian army stood by as pro-regime mobs attacked demonstrators demanding Hosni Mubarak step down, a bipartisan group of former U.S. officials and foreign policy scholars is calling on the U.S. to freeze military assistance to Egypt until the army’s role is clarified.

Clinton to ambassadors: We are all in uncharted territory (Josh Rogin – The Cable)

In the midst of the Egypt crisis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with almost every U.S. ambassador Wednesday at the State Department and told them their jobs will be getting more difficult as the events in the Arab world unfold.