Today’s headlines

August 12, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Secretary Clinton’s Interview (Scott Pelly, CBS News)

Obviously, we’re all having to tighten our belts in this tough budgetary climate, but I have the great honor of heading the State Department and USAID, our two civilian agencies that – we don’t carry weapons; we carry food and we negotiate treaties, we try to help governments get better. It’s an insurance policy both against tragedy happening, but it’s also our way of responding when the inevitable – because given human nature, we’re going to face these kinds of terrible calamities – that we show who we are as a people. And I would hate to think that our country would ever back off from that.

Why we must fight for Development Aid (Richard Parker, DEVEX)

With 20 percent cuts already on the table, the international affairs budget is in for a tough fight throughout the fall. It is more critical than ever for the development community to demonstrate how strategic and effective its programs are for U.S. national security, for our own economy, and as a demonstration of our leadership in the world.

Smart Power

Clinton: Don’t cut farm aid for Africa (Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed Thursday for support for President Obama’s embattled global farm-aid program, saying that the reforms it was promoting had prevented the drought in East Africa from being worse.  The administration’s signature “Feed the Future” program is facing potentially steep cuts by Congress. The White House has requested $1.4 billion for the project in 2012. But a House Appropriations subcommittee recently slashed several accounts that could leave the program with about one-third less in funding.

Politics/Foreign Policy

8 From G.O.P. Trade Attacks at Iowa Debate (Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker, New York Times)

A withering critique of President Obama’s handling of the economy was overshadowed by a burst of incivility among the Republican presidential candidates who gathered here for a debate on Thursday night and fought to stay alive in the party’s increasingly fractious nominating race.

Senate Holds Up Nominee for State Department Arms Control Bureau (Martin Matishak, National Journal)

An unidentified U.S. senator has placed a hold on the nomination of the veteran diplomat picked to lead a key State Department arms control bureau.  Thomas Countryman, who until last week served as deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, was the White House’s choice to head up the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau.

WFP says has more access in Somalia, Mogadishu a challenge (Yara Bayoumy, Reuters)

The U.N.’s food agency said it has been able to reach more parts of famine-struck Somalia in the last month but there were still significant security challenges in Mogadishu even though Islamist rebels have left the capital.  About 3.6 million people in Somalia are at risk of starvation as the Horn of Africa experiences its worst drought in decades. The worst-hit Somalis live in areas controlled by al Shabaab militants and many have risked their lives to travel to Mogadishu in search of food aid.

USAID director in Egypt quits amid dispute centered on funding (Hamza Hendawi, Boston Globe)

The USAID director in Egypt abruptly flew back to Washington yesterday after less than a year on the job, the first major casualty of a dispute between the two longtime allies over American funding for prodemocracy groups.  Jim Bever left his post the day after President Obama’s administration chastised Egypt’s leaders for stoking anti-American sentiment during the country’s rocky transition to democracy. In the rare public rebuke, the United States said it had noticed mounting attacks and criticism of US aid and motives.