Seizing the Moment for Modernizing U.S. Foreign Assistance: Testimony for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 23, 2009

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From Dr. Radelet's Testimony:

Today the United States and its partners face many complex global challenges, including new security threats, the spread of virulent diseases, the opportunities and tensions arising from the process of globalization, climate change, rapidly rising food and energy prices, and fallout from the war in Iraq. Meeting these challenges will require a new vision of American global leadership based on the strength of our core values, ideas, and ingenuity. It calls 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 defense and security to meet these goals. Instead, we must make greater use of all the tools of statecraft through "smart power," including diplomacy, defense, trade, investment, intelligence, and a strong and effective foreign assistance strategy.

In today's world, foreign assistance is a vital tool for strengthening U.S. foreign policy and restoring American global leadership. Foreign policy experts on both sides of the political aisle now recognize the importance of strong foreign assistance programs. But they also recognize that we significantly under-invest in foreign assistance programs, and that our foreign assistance programs are out of date and badly in need of modernization to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

The combination of the recognition of today's great foreign policy challenges, the broad agreement on the importance of foreign assistance as a critical foreign policy tool, the successes we are seeing around the world in economic and social development, and the upcoming change in administration creates the best opportunity in decades for modernizing and strengthening our foreign assistance programs. Taking on the challenge of reform will not be easy. It will require passion, bold vision and concerted bipartisan leadership by Congress and the Executive Branch. But taking up this important challenge will enhance the leadership role of the United States in the world, strengthen our ability to forge alliances to achieve our broader goals, enhance our security, and help fight poverty around the world.

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