Making Smart Power Tools More Effective

November 23, 2010 By Madeleine Pryor

Efforts to reform and modernize U.S. foreign assistance continue to move ahead, with the latest details coming from a QDDR preview leaked last week and the release of more information about the USAID Forward initiative.  USAID Forward is a seven part reform strategy mentioned as an “early outcome” of the QDDR in USAID’s fact sheet on the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development.  While details are yet to emerge as to what USAID Forward would look like in practice, it will stress procurement reform, rebuilding USAID’s policy and budget management capacities, and an emphasis on science and technology.  With Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah briefing members on the Hill about the Administration’s efforts and bipartisan reform bills still on the table, we hope the momentum will continue for making our tools of development and diplomacy more effective.  Make sure you check out our statement on the early overview of the QDDR.

Must Reads

Politics/Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy: Why The US Is Too Secure (Stephen M. Walt – NPR)
… [A]lthough perfect security is beyond anyone’s grasp, the United States is as secure as any state could ever expect to be. That’s a wonderful thing for us Americans, but it has at least two negative consequences. First, because the United States doesn’t have to worry very much about protecting its own shores from a serious military challenge, it is free to run around the world getting involved in various problems, even when it has lost sight of any underlying strategic rationale and has no clear idea why it is doing these things.

Aid Groups Seek Safety Pacts With Taliban (Yaroslav Trofimov – Wall Street Journal) – subscription required
Independent aid groups operating in Afghanistan are increasingly distancing themselves from the U.S.-led coalition and trying to forge safe-passage agreements with insurgents, betting that a show of neutrality will protect their work amid an intensifying war.

In Defense of Defense (Victor Davis Hanson – National Review)
Two bedrock beliefs of traditional conservatism are fiscal discipline and strong national defense. Likewise, two general rules of budgetary reform in times of economic crisis are, first, to scale back expenditures rather than raise taxes, and, second, to look at defense for some of the deepest cuts. Something therefore will have to give.

The Iran-START Connection (Elizabeth Weingarten – The Atlantic)
The New START treaty may only display the signatures of President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, but its foreign-policy implications stretch far beyond the two nations. If Congress fails to ratify it, the most worrisome effect could be a cozier relationship between Russia and Iran.
Women’s Health and Rights: Why U.S. Foreign Policy Matters (Serra Sippel – Huffington Post)
Congress and the American people have great reason to closely monitor the impact of U.S. global health policy on women’s health in Ethiopia. The U.S. is a major donor to Ethiopia, providing $900 million in foreign assistance in 2009 alone. We have been able to contribute to positive growth and development in what is one of Africa’s poorest countries. … Our partnership with Ethiopia has led to concrete, successful outcomes, including a doubling in just five years of the percentage of women who are using contraception among those who want to avoid or delay pregnancy. It is an example of what U.S. foreign policy can accomplish.