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We are at the start of what promises to be an unusually difficult year in the global economy. Policy decisions in the United States and other rich world countries will matter immensely for poor and vulnerable people living in developing countries.
Everyone says August in Washington, D.C. is quiet. That is of course, unless you are planning to attend the presidential conventions and from what I can tell, just about everyone is sending someone to the conventions. And this time around, CGD is going to both of them.
Two former administrators of the U.S. Agency for International Development -- Peter McPherson and Brian Atwood -- said the U.S. government should give greater prominence to development and rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 in their testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Their testimony and other events around town signal growing momentum for a dramatic overhaul of U.S. foreign assistance.
The day after the launch of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network's New Day, New Way Proposal, Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Christopher Shays (R-CT), John Tierney (D-MA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced a bipartisan resolution to elevate global development and foreign assistance in our national interest. Continuing to build on the surge of momentum for modernizing U.S.
Last week, CGD launched a new video to help convey why the next president needs to give U.S. foreign assistance policy something akin to an extreme makeover. "Bring U.S. Foreign Assistance into the 21st Century" has since been watched on YouTube by nearly 10,000 people and many have taken the time to send us their thoughts. The overwhelming response from viewers is: this video is "fun," "short" and "makes the point" but that they want more details of the underlying policy analysis and recommendations.
Hundreds of development advocates gathered in Crystal City last week for the annual InterAction Forum urged a fresh effort to bring U.S. foreign assistance efforts into the 21st century.
At a luncheon plenary session during the conference, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) summarized:
Foreign assistance is more important to America's national security and foreign policy than ever before. But our Cold-War mechanisms aren't up to the challenge.
In Memphis today, Senator Clinton called for a Cabinet-level poverty czar. This person would be "solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it, that will focus the attention of our nation on this issue and never let it go."
This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee convened its members to discuss with Defense Secretary Robert Gates the "persistent imbalance between U.S. funding for defense and diplomacy." According to a House Foreign Affairs Committee press release Chairman Berman referred to President Bush's 2002 National Security which affirmed that diplomacy and development are as important as defense. Berman said:
*This is a joint post with Steve Radelet
The extraordinary challenges and opportunities of today require a new vision of American global leadership based on the strength of our core values, ideas and ingenuity. They call for an integrated foreign policy that promotes our values, enhances our security, helps create economic and political opportunities for people around the world, and restores America's faltering image abroad. We cannot rely exclusively or even primarily on military might to meet these goals. Instead, we must make greater use of all the tools of statecraft through "smart power," including diplomacy, trade, investment, intelligence, and a strong and effective foreign assistance strategy.