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In his April 26 testimony to House appropriators, new Director of Foreign Assistance Randall Tobias left no doubt about his determination to ensure that the fragmented U.S. foreign assistance regime be overhauled to reflect strategic guidance from the Secretary of State -- and to ensure that U.S. aid advances the administration’s broad foreign policy and national security goals, rather than being driven by the desires of individual agencies or country missions.
The White House’s updated National Security Strategy, released yesterday, offers an unapologetic if rose-tinted defense of Bush administration policies since September 2002, when the previous NSS appeared. Although most of the chapter headings are the same (“Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity,” “Expand the Circle of Development,” etc.), the new version goes well beyond broad declarations of unassailable principles: it seeks to marshal evidence of administration success in achieving these goals.
In testimony yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a spirited and largely persuasive defense of the Administration’s FY06 Foreign Affairs budget of $35.1 billion. At a time of budgetary austerity (aside from DoD’s obscene and apparently untouchable half a trillion dollar budget) we owe kudos to Secretary Rice for securing OMB agreement on a 4% increase in spending on the State Department and foreign aid programs such as USAID.
The article Speak softly and carry a big wallet (pdf) about the nomination of Randall Tobias as the new USAID administrator in the January 26th issue of The Economist highlights recent plans for restructuring the US foreign aid program and reviews some of the debate on the potential politicization of US development assistance. The article cites the CGD working paper “The Global War on Terror and U.S.
Steve Krasner, Director of Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State, spoke on Transformational Diplomacy on Friday before a standing-room-only crowd at a CGD event (transcript) He argued that the creation of a new Deputy for Development in the State Department reporting directly to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, announced the day before, would strengthen not weaken USAID and thus the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid programs.
On January 1st, 2006, one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations of its time will quietly depart Sierra Leone, handing over its responsibilities and legacies alike to the first ever UN integrated peacebuilding mission in a post-conflict context, UNIOSIL. I have been following the drawdown of the UN presence in Sierra Leone for some time now, both in my previous role analyzing economic agendas in civil wars and rule of law issues at the International Peace Academy, as well as here at CGD.