MFAN partner Save the Children has released a report, Afghanistan in Transition, calling for attention to development and governance during the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops, and outlaying recommendations to development and government actors.
Representatives Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) authored an op-ed which appeared in today’s Politico about the importance of investing in smart power regardless of one’s political affiliation. The bipartisan piece was geared toward freshman members of Congress – providing a word of advice on the importance of the international affairs budget and it’s impact on national security.
“If you don’t want to use military force any more than you have to, count me in. State Department, USAID, all of these programs, in their own way, help win this struggle against radical Islam. The unsung heroes of this war are the State Department officials, the [Department of Justice] officials, and the agricultural people who are going out there.”
State’s spokesman P.J. Crowley told POLITICO, “If we have to take a significant cut in foreign assistance, in some fashion, that is going to affect Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Those are countries where we have vital interests and vital security concerns.”
As a new Congress gets into gear, both Republicans and Democrats have a solemn duty to do the people’s work and to make sure their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. U.S. foreign assistance is already under the microscope, as it should be, but we believe policymakers should focus on making it better instead of slashing budgets. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1% of our federal budget, and our investments in it can pay real dividends for the cost.
We strongly oppose last week’s Republican Study Committee budget proposal, which would cut all operating expenses at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The cuts would derail the comprehensive reform agenda underway inside the agency, at a time when its ability to perform effectively is crucial to our national security, our economic interests, and the lives and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The fact that we have come this far shows there is a broad, bipartisan consensus in Washington on the need to make U.S. foreign aid more effective, particularly because it is so critical to ongoing national security efforts, but also because we need our development dollars to go further in a time of tight budgets. The administration and Congress now must work together to finish the job, and turn these bold proposals into lasting policies and structures.
“This lack of cooperation and coordination is especially prominent in DC, which I observed while serving as a consultant on Iraq policy at the State Department (2005-6) and then with DOD (2008-9). It occurs at all levels and is endemic to the point of being cancerous. Petty political and bureaucratic concerns preclude the sharing of information or resources, limit effective decision making by senior leaders and, in turn, prohibit the creation of sound policy and strategy. In some cases, this can prohibit decision making altogether.”
In a recent series of blog posts for MFAN’s ModernizeAid blog, former Congressman Mark Green (R-WI) of the Malaria No More Policy Center lays out the Conservative case for foreign assistance reform. Rep. Green, who also served as Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush, gives 10 reasons Conservatives should get on board with more effective U.S. foreign assistance.
Given the need to reform development assistance efforts within the current window of political opportunity, the Brookings Institution recently released a series of policy briefs that offer a range of recommendations for influential global development actors that look beyond questions of increased resources for antipoverty services to the effectiveness of different approaches and to the systemic issues associated with the delivery of development outcomes.