Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

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.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Climate Change and Criminal Liability

In U.S. jurisprudence, the standard for conviction in a criminal proceeding is "beyond a reasonable doubt" -- at least 90% certain, in the conventional understanding. The prevailing standard in civil proceedings is the "preponderance of evidence" -- more likely true than not -- which implies greater than 50% likelihood.

The World Bank and the Triennial Tin Cup: The Donors Will Give, But What Will They Ask?

The FT notes that talks have begun for the IDA-15 replenishment round. This is the latest set of negotiations that take place every three years where the World Bank asks its shareholders for cash to provide grants or to buy down the interest rates for its lending to poor countries--and when the donors typically load up the Bank with new conditions. Although these talks are often tough, the donors almost always increase their contributions.

Fragile States and Climate Change: Things Fall Apart

**This post is co-authored with CGD senior fellow David Wheeler
Today's Washington Post column by David Ignatius finally inches popular understanding in the U.S. a bit further in the right direction on why climate change could be so costly to human society. It isn't just the direct costs of seawalls and more destructive hurricanes that climate change will bring. It's the risk that institutional arrangements to deal with those costs will not be resilient and will collapse under the resulting pressure--so that, as Chinua Achebe suggested about post-colonial West Africa, things do literally "fall apart".

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