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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.
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.
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.