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Nazanin Ash is a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. She works on issues related to governance, political and economic reform, and the Middle East. Most recently, Ash served as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US Department of State, leading the US government’s Middle East Partnership Initiative and working to advance political and economic reform in the Middle East. Prior to this role, she served as a member of the secretary of state’s policy planning staff from June 2007 to April 2012, designing policy initiatives to strengthen US government aid effectiveness and approaches to political and economic development. Ash also served as principal advisor and chief of staff to the first director of US foreign assistance and administrator of the US Agency for International Development, developing and supervising the implementation of key strategies for US foreign assistance reform and policies for allocating US foreign assistance. Before joining the US Department of State, Ash worked for ActionAid–Kenya, one of the largest rights-based NGOs in Kenya and a leading advocacy and local capacity-building institution. She holds an MPP from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA in political science from Bryn Mawr College.
Recently Tunisia has cemented its reputation as the brightest hope to emerge from the Arab Spring and we are heartened by the response to this progress, with President Obama requesting a more than doubling of US assistance to Tunisia in his 2016 budget request.
President Obama’s new national security strategy appropriately defines the limits of military power. But with the President’s request to Congress to authorize a new war on terror, over $5 billion in supplemental funds appropriated for the military fight against ISIL, and over $10 billion requested to fight ISIL and support other counterterrorism efforts in the President’s FY2016 budget, the administration’s counterterrorism approach hasn’t caught up to the message.
The budget that the President submitted to Congress this week included an 8 percent increase in the international affairs account, including a commendable increase for the Millennium Challenge Corporation. But what we haven’t seen from this administration yet is a concrete proposal for how America can deliver on enlightened self-interest by helping to dramatically accelerate progress among the five billion people worldwide who live on less than $10 a day—well below the US poverty line.
Secretary Kerry, the world is on fire, the threats are real, and you can’t work any harder. Even while firefighting, you're giving your first big development policy speech tomorrow, at USAID's Frontiers in Development Forum.
Here's my wish list for the future of the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Elevate the MCC’s leadership role in US development policy and practice and prove the MCC model’s relevance to the big development and foreign policy challenges of our time, including strategic and fragile states.
Surging violence in the Middle East, massive refugee flows from the region, and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and here at home have brought renewed focus to the fight against terrorism. The strategies are strikingly familiar—a new international military coalition, the return of US troops to the region, an increase in security assistance to regimes in the region. But if what’s past is prologue, these strategies, taken alone, will fail to secure our interests.