Today’s Headlines

July 26, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Modernizing The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (Rep. Howard Berman, ModernizeAid Blog)

We have all read discouraging accounts of the ways that aid is wasted through graft and corruption, poor project design, and large investments that cannot be sustained.  Although foreign assistance accounts for less than 1 percent of our national budget, we must insist that every penny is used wisely.  To do that, we need to develop strategic planning processes that set clear goals and measurable indicators of success; work with partner governments and local communities to make sure they have the will and the ability to keep projects going with their own resources; coordinate our activities with those of other donors and focus on the areas where we have a comparative advantage; and institute robust mechanisms for transparency, monitoring, and evaluation.

A Step Toward Trust With China (Admiral Mike Mullen, New York Times Op-Ed)

The military relationship between the United States and China is one of the world’s most important. And yet, clouded by some misunderstanding and suspicion, it remains among the most challenging. There are issues on which we disagree and are tempted to confront each other. But there are crucial areas where our interests coincide, on which we must work together…It’s all right to disagree sometimes, to have substantial differences. In fact, sometimes bluntness and honesty are exactly what’s needed to create strategic trust. And we will need more of it.

Smart Power

Texting to Track Malaria Supplies (PBS Newshour)

In Tanzania, where almost 2 million cases of malaria are reported each year, a new voucher program provides the treated nets to pregnant women and children — who are especially vulnerable to malaria — at a discounted price of 500 Tanzania Shillings (about $0.35). The scheme is gaining popularity — instead of giving out nets for free every few years, the program builds up a more sustainable system by integrating clinics, wholesalers, retailers and net manufacturers. While the voucher system has been in existence for almost a decade, it used to be paper based. By incorporating mobile technology, the organization has been able to operate more efficiently. They are currently in the process of developing text message based vouchers to expedite the process of reimbursing retailers for participating in the program.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Envoy Says U.S. Will Start Afghan Pullout, Slowly (Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times)

The new American ambassador to Afghanistan took the oath of office on Monday, saying in a succinct but personal speech that the United States would start to pull back from its engagement here — but only gradually. He [Ambassador Crocker] left no doubt that he saw this chapter of American policy as one when “it is time for us to step back and for the Afghans to step forward, and they are doing so.”At the same time, he warned that Western powers needed to “proceed carefully” and said there would “be no rush for the exits.” “The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future,” Mr. Crocker said. “Frankly, we left the wrong way in the early 1990s, and we all know the history of those decisions: the civil war, the rise of the Taliban, sanctuary for Al Qaeda, and 9/11.”

Horn of Africa aid caravan too late, again (Barry Malone, Reuters)

The humanitarian, diplomatic and media circus is necessary every time people go hungry in Africa, analysts say, because governments — both African and foreign — rarely respond early enough to looming catastrophes. Combine that with an often simplistic explanation of the causes of famine, and a growing band of aid critics say parts of Africa are doomed to a never-ending cycle of ignored early warnings, media appeals and emergency U.N. feeding—rather than a transition to lasting self-sufficiency. “Measures that could have kept animals alive—and providing milk, and income to buy food — would have been much cheaper than feeding malnourished children, but the time for those passed with very little investment,” Levine said.

The Arab Spring Is Still Alive (Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal)

An AP headline the other day summed up the conventional wisdom: “Arab Spring Stalled.” “The stalling” in the Middle East, wrote Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass in the Financial Times the week before, leaves the region “less tolerant, less prosperous and less stable than what existed.” Mr. Haass, a leading voice in the realist camp, sounded a nostalgic note for the days the U.S. maintained the Arab status quo together with the Saudi royals. “It will not be springtime any time soon in the Middle East,” he concluded…The Arab world begins this journey in no worse shape than did many recent budding democracies, including in Eastern Europe. Laborious births lie ahead; that was the case too with South Africa, Chile, Romania and so on. The euphoria of the day after the first revolution and current despondency is a symptom of bipolar policy disorder. Though challenging, the promise of the Arab Spring is clear and attainable, and recent events suggest that it may be many things, but not stalled.