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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Giving Suharto His Due

I was of two minds as to whether or not to join in the analysis of Suharto's legacy, but I decided that I cannot let stand some of what I have read about Suharto, Indonesia's strongman president for 31 years, who died on Sunday at the age of 86. For those who don't know me: I was the World Bank's country director in Jakarta from 1994 to 1999. I was present during Indonesia's financial crisis and when Suharto was forced out of office in May, 1998.

Why the Next U.S. President Should Create a Cabinet-Level Department of Global Development

*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.

World Bank Revisions in PPP GDP Show China and India 40 Percent Poorer -- and Highlight the Need for Better Data

Recently revised World Bank estimates of PPP (purchasing power parity) -- adjusted GDP suggest that China and India are an astonishing 40 percent poorer than earlier guesstimated in terms of average living standards. Arvind Subramanian provides a nice assessment (Fact Check, Reality Check? New GDP Data) of these new estimates, in which GDP (measured in U.S.

Get Your Ink Dabbers Ready: It's CGD State of the Union Bingo Time

U.S. policies have a huge impact on global development, and more successful development is crucial to U.S. goals. But global development has often been missing in the U.S. political debate. On Monday, January 28, President Bush will deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress, the American people, and to a global audience seeking to understand America's priorities in the world.

Pentagon Chief Robert Gates Calls for More Resources, New Approach to Development

*This is a joint post with Steve Radelet
Yesterday in an interview with NPR, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a strong and smart argument for supporting American troops. No surprises there, right? Except for the fact that he is defending the build-up of civilian troops -- our diplomatic and development corps -- to be America's front line of defense in fighting global poverty and insecurity. Much as he did in his brilliant speech at Kansas State University in November, Gates encourages the United States to devote more resources and create new institutions for nonmilitary means of influence abroad: diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development. His message:

If we are to meet the myriad challenges around the world in the coming decades, this country must strengthen other important elements of national power both institutionally and financially, and create the capability to integrate and apply all of the elements of national power to problems and challenges abroad.
And, how specifically do we elevate global development policy in the national interest? Says Gates:

What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development....The way to institutionalize these capabilities is probably not to recreate or repopulate institutions of the past such as AID or USIA. On the other hand, just adding more people to existing government departments such as Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Justice and so on is not a sufficient answer either -- even if they were to be more deployable overseas. New institutions are needed for the 21st century, new organizations with a 21st century mind-set.

Folsom's Departure Creates Opening to Fix The World Bank Fight Against Corruption

Suzanne Rich Folsom, the controversial head of the World Bank's internal anti-corruption unit, resigned yesterday to return to the private sector. With Ms. Folsom's departure almost all of Paul Wolfowitz's inner circle has now left the Bank. I expect that some of the Bank's critics will cast this turn of events as victory of the bank bureaucracy over the forces of good in a fight for truth, justice, the American way, and, most especially, zero corruption.

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