News Clips 5.13.2011
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Today’s Headline: See our Twitter feed @ModernizeAid for live tweets from yesterday’s overflow event for the newly-formed Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance.
- Sen. Lugar Raises Afghan Mission Questions (NPR Morning Edition, May 13) INSKEEP: Of course, since bin Laden was found in Pakistan, given where he was found, people have begun questioning that aid again. Do you regret supporting that bill at all? Mr. LUGAR: No, because the Pakistanis always said: You folks are in and out of the place. You have no interest in us. And we said wrong. We’re going to make a commitment for five years. The five years was the big figure, not the $7.5 billion, although that’s a lot of money. However, life is never simple, and when we began to implement the first year of this, Pakistanis said, well, you’re intruding on our sovereignty. Sometimes they said, well, we need really some big dams. And we said, no, we want to deal with schoolchildren and want to deal with health, the strengthening of civil government. And they said well, that really is intrusion. You are really into our box now. So, as a result, the truth of the matter is out of the 1.5 billion in the first year, only 179 million has actually been allocated to four projects. And even that is under some scrutiny as to how it is being spent, how efficient the funds may be. Now, that’s too bad, but it illustrates how tough this job is, even if you offer a very generous thought in terms of foreign assistance. Getting it done in Pakistan is no easy trick. However, there’s still four more years to come into a new relationship with a very important country of 180 million people.
- Pakistan and questions over foreign aid (Reuters blog-Bernd Debusmann, May 13) Consequently, military and civilian aid is likely to continue flowing and the strained marriage of convenience between the U.S. and Pakistan will survive this latest spat. But giving billions of dollars to a country where, according to President Barack Obama, “we think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden” will probably rekindle a long-running debate over the how and why of foreign aid as a whole.
- New U.S. Bipartisan Caucus Targets Aid Effectiveness (Devex, May 12) The Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance will examine the “ways the United States currently delivers foreign assistance” to help improve the effectiveness of the country’s aid program and educate members of the U.S. Congress on the the subject, Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), founders and co-chairmen of the caucus, said in a letter they circulated this week inviting colleagues to the launch. Crenshaw and Smith recognized in their letter an argument that the Obama administration has been emphasizing for years: Development aid is in the U.S.’s economic and national security interests. “Development assistance, coupled with defense and diplomacy, makes up the critical balance of America’s national security,” they said, adding that effective foreign aid can help promote accountability, develop stable international partners, reduce poverty, and increase national security, among others.