Today’s Headlines

July 6, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Who’s In the News

Rubio makes the case for foreign aid (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin)

“We certainly have to be more careful when spending foreign aid…. On the other hand, sometimes in the press and in the minds of many, our foreign aid is exaggerated,” Rubio said in an online question and answer session on June 29. “It really is a miniscule part of our overall budget and it’s not the reason we have this growing debt in America.”

David Cameron dismisses critics of international aid as ‘hard-hearted’ (Guardian, Allegra Stratton)

“In the debate that we inevitably have in Britain about whether it’s right to be spending money on aid, I would say this is a great example of a country that, if we walk away from and if we ignore and forget about, the problems come visited back on our doorstep. “How do we know this? Because we’ve done it before. We walked away from Afghanistan in the past. The problem of drugs got worse. The problem of terrorism got worse. The problem of extremism got worse. The problem of asylum and immigration got worse.” He said his two aid priorities were to save lives and put money into previously broken states.

Lagarde takes helm of IMF amid major challenges (AP, Christopher S. Rugaber)

The former French finance minister is under pressure on many fronts. Lagarde must convince the developing world that her IMF will be a more open place for non-Western nations. At the same time, she’ll have to persuade her fellow Europeans to take painful steps to avoid a default by Greece.

Smart Power

World Bank Is Opening Its Treasure Chest of Data (New York Times, Stephanie Strom)

Mr. Zoellick says the bank’s newfound openness is part of a push to embrace competition, both internally and externally, as it tries to reduce poverty and foster economic development. In short, the World Bank, long synonymous with Washington elitism, is taking steps to “democratize development economics,” to borrow a phrase from Mr. Zoellick, who is leading what many insiders regard as an assault on the bank’s power and prestige. “We do not have a monopoly on the answers,” he said in a speech at Georgetown University last fall. “For too long, prescriptions have flowed one way.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Obama calls lawmakers to White House in effort to break debt stalemate (Washington Post, Lori Montgomery)

President Obama on Tuesday rejected calls for a short-term increase in the legal limit on government borrowing and summoned congressional leaders to the White House to restart negotiations over a long-term plan to restrain the deepening national debt. With an Aug. 2 deadline closing in, Obama urged lawmakers in both parties to break the stalemate that halted talks nearly two weeks ago and seize what he called “a unique opportunity to do something big” to rebalance the nation’s finances.

Struggling for Power in Afghanistan (New York Times Op-Ed, Glenn Zorpette)

When it comes to electricity, the agency has a dismal record, one that needs to be reviewed now, before the grid plan moves ahead. Afghanistan is in the bottom 10 percent of the world in electricity consumption per capita; if recent patterns hold, it will stay there as U.S.A.I.D. and the State Department try to appease the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and also give American officials a veneer of victory over Afghanistan’s problems as American troops start to withdraw. President Obama’s desire to speed the withdrawal makes the issue more urgent.

GOP Presidential Candidates Define Foreign Policy (NPR, Morning Edition)

Steve Inskeep talks to Republican strategist Charlie Black about the foreign policy of the GOP frontrunners in the 2012 campaign. Strategy in the Middle East, Libya and Afghanistan already has divided the candidates as few other issues have. Black advised John McCain’s presidential campaign.