The Call for Continued Support of Smart Foreign Assistance

September 26, 2012 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

The race for the White House brought both candidates to New York City yesterday, where they spoke on a wide range of issues relating to global development and American leadership in the world. As Governor Romney was making his remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), President Obama was preparing to deliver his annual address before the United Nations General Assembly. President Obama also spoke later in the day at CGI.

The two campaigns may differ on many issues involving U.S. foreign and development policy, but both spoke to the national security, humanitarian, and economic impacts of foreign assistance in advancing America’s interests abroad.  They also acknowledged the critical role that aid plays in meeting the complex challenges of today’s world.

This was Governor Romney’s first speech devoted exclusively to development, and it’s a very important signal to the value he sees in foreign assistance and global development efforts.  In it, he stressed the economic opportunity – both in developing countries and at home – that foreign assistance provides. Governor Romney also took the opportunity to zero-in on the Middle East and North Africa and called for continued American engagement.

There is broad bipartisan consensus that we need our development and diplomatic efforts, as well as defense, to stop instability and prevent conflict. Strong, capable civilian partners are critical to ensuring our economic prosperity and national security. Robust U.S. diplomacy and development programs allow a wider range of potential partners – philanthropic, faith-based, NGO, and private sector – that create a more favorable environment for U.S. investments and trade.

President Obama, who has spoken extensively about these issues, also emphasized the value of public-private partnerships in tackling some of the most pressing development issues of our time. During his CGI address, he highlighted the bipartisan support for foreign assistance and went on to say that development is critical to promoting economic growth and to strengthening governance capacity. The President also used his remarks at CGI to focus on specific topics such as ending human trafficking, saying the United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement through the Partnership for Freedom: Innovation Awards to Stop Human Trafficking.

If yesterday’s speeches by the candidates are any indicator, support for America’s global leadership and engagement in the world will continue to receive the bipartisan support they deserve.