Today’s Headlines

November 17, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Soft Power part of Reagan legacy (Norm Coleman and Mike Huckabee, Politico)

Republicans seeking the presidential nomination take the stage again Tuesday to debate foreign policy.  The sad state of the U.S. economy has both complicated and marginalized the defense and foreign policy agenda — rationing resources as well as attention. But history demonstrates even presidents elected on economic issues are eventually judged by their foreign policy choices…There are many Republican approaches to foreign policy. But one possibility that is not an option is global retreat. Even when economic times are difficult, America has enduring interests and values.

Smart Power

Foreign aid, capitalist style (Nina Easton, Fortune)

Dole Food Co. has been knocking on his door, but Tony Botchway wasn’t sure he wanted to cut a deal. Five years ago, this Ghanaian farmer could only dream of becoming a supplier to the world’s largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Now he’s producing 4,500 hectares of sweet pineapples and mangoes, and selling them for juicy profits (profits he wasn’t sure he wanted to share) to Spain and Switzerland. His Bomarts Farm has expansion plans that local banks are happy to finance. And he can afford to pay his nearly 750 workers above minimum wage, while providing lunch and free medical care. “We’re ready to compete with Costa Rican producers,” he told me as we stood in front of his new processing plant in central Ghana’s Nsorbi, just weeks before he ultimately decided to ink a deal with Dole (DOLE).

Aid Policy: Donors still far from transparent (IRIN)

When nations gather in Busan, South Korea, for the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, transparency will be up for discussion. A study by campaign group Publish What You Fund finds that most international aid donors are still not open enough about their aid programmes, and some offer no information at all.  The aid watchdog checked on whether donors publish information about their budgets, their allocation and procurement policies, or audit reports on their own performance.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Santorum urges GOP rivals to be ‘careful’ about tough foreign policy talk (Peter Hamby, CNN Politics)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum chided his GOP rivals Wednesday and urged them to be “careful” about their sharp-tongued foreign policy rhetoric.  In a debate about national security issues last weekend, several Republican candidates – including Texas Gov Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – proposed eliminating United States aid payments to Pakistan, where state intelligence forces have been linked to terrorists, if the government is not fully in line with American interests.

Republican candidates’ proposed foreign aid cuts wouldn’t solve national debt (Editorial, Star-Ledger)

Republican presidential candidates are questioning how the United States allocates foreign aid in light of domestic financial hardships. Most are echoing Rick Perry’s stance in Saturday’s debate: “The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country is going to start at zero dollars, and then we’ll have a conversation.”  This might, however, be a little too much bluster. All foreign assistance accounted for about 1 percent of the federal budget in 2010, although public perception is vastly different.

Why Ron Paul is wrong (M.S., The Economist)

Another line on foreign aid that I keep seeing on the internets lately is Ron Paul’s quip: “Foreign aid is taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.” The second half of this quip identifies a real problem: too much foreign aid money gets cornered by local elites in recipient countries. Some of this is illegitimate cronyism or graft. Some is legitimate: foreign aid programmes have to be administered by well-educated locals, who generally come from well-off backgrounds and command relatively high salaries, all the higher as the foreign-aid programmes increase demand for their services.

Democrats, Republicans far apart on deficit deal (Andrew Taylor, Business Week)

A Democrat on a special deficit-cutting “supercommittee” Wednesday questioned whether Republicans are still interested in negotiating after the panel’s top GOP member said Republicans have “gone as far as we feel we can go” on tax hikes.  A sense of deep pessimism has gripped the supercommittee, and judging from the limited public statement by panel members, a debt bargain could be out of reach.