Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

Modeling What the New GOP House Means for U.S. Aid to Africa (Hint: -$900m)

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz.

Our colleagues Sarah Jane Staats and Connie Veillette have already explained how the recent election results might affect foreign aid. The 150 Account, which includes aid, is a prime target as Congress takes aim at the budget deficit. One silver lining may be that belt-tightening could also force compromise on long-overdue reforms.

But what can we learn from history?

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

What Would Barack Obama Be Like If He Was Still President in 2051? Ask Gabon

What would Barack Obama be like if he was still president in 2051? We would expect that despite whatever initial good intentions, that four decades in power would inevitably give way to entrenched corruption, mindless sycophancy, and probably destroy our democracy. Such an outcome is not only barred by the U.S. constitution, but sounds like an absurd question today.

Advice to Obama's Africa Team: Don't Change Too Much

The following commentary originally appeared on the impressive new global news site, GlobalPost

The world has colossal expectations for incoming President Barack Obama and for changes in U.S. foreign policy. However, the new administration’s approach to Africa will almost certainly be marked more by continuity than change. And that's good news for Africa -- and America.

More bad news for oil transparency in Congo-Brazzaville

According to Reuters, two anti-corruption campaigners have been arrested in Congo-Brazzaville, allegedly for embezzling funds. If true, it is disturbing that people tasked with overseeing fiscal transparency are themselves involved in fraud, and bodes poorly for Congo’s chances of breaking its cycle of wasting public money.

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