Improving U.S. Development Assistance Seen as Moral Imperative
Washington — President Obama has made development one of the three pillars of U.S. foreign affairs along with diplomacy and defense because development has become a moral imperative as well as a strategic and economic imperative, says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama announced the new U.S. Global Development Policy during remarks at the United Nations September 22 at the Millennium Development Goals Summit. The president said his approach reflects the need for transformational change and allows more people to assume control of their own destiny.
“It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being,” Obama said. Development is helping nations move from poverty to prosperity and not by aid alone. If the international community continues to do the same things the same way, some modest progress may be made, but the opportunity to reach development goals will be missed, Obama said.
“We are making sure that development is an integral part of America’s national security policy, and it is part of an integrated approach that includes development, diplomacy and defense,” Clinton said. “We truly are elevating development to the highest levels of the United States government.”
In Iraq and in Afghanistan it became clear that to be successful beyond assuring security, it was essential to improve development, governance and the rule of law, she said.
The United States wants to make investments in development on a basis of partnership, not patronage, she said. “We want to make sure that we look to country-led and country-owned strategies so that we are not just chasing the idea of development without seeing it become sustainable,” Clinton said September 28 at the annual U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Conference in Washington.
At the conference, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said economic growth in a nation matters because without it no country will have the resources to educate children or ensure access to health care.
“But of course it’s not just enough to be for growth,” Geithner said. “Unless you’re making sure countries are investing their resources, scarce resources, in educating women, girls, in basic health care, you’re not going to have sustainable economic growth.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the conference that there are both short-term and long-term objectives to the development policy. Without sustainable development, Gates said, for example, there will not be success in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“What we’ve discovered as we went along and we sort of came to it, I think, way late, was that the civilian side of the government in the arena of development was significantly under-resourced,” Gates said. “Development creates stability. It contributes to better governance.”
“In the fights that we’re in, the civilian component is absolutely critical to success,” Gates said.
In the longer term, Gates said, development aid that helps prevent conflict reduces the need to use military power. Development aid can contribute to stability and good governance. “If you are able to do those things … in a focused and sustainable way, then it may be unnecessary for us to send soldiers,” Gates said.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told the conference that the new Global Development Policy is a type of road map for how to rebuild U.S. development and his agency.
“There’s a way to do [development] in a way that is smart, is results oriented, is focused on knowing how to spend resources and cooperate and design policies and build governance in environments where you get real results,” Shah said.
USAID, he added, has had real experience to draw from in its global operations. “This policy is a license to take that knowledge and use that evidence and make some real shifts in how we actually allocate resources, design programs,” he said.
A major part of the new approach for USAID, Shah said, will be in greater coordination across the U.S. government and applying resources in specific focus areas — which include basic food and agriculture, global health, sustainable economic growth and democratic governance.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)