Foreign aid in economic crises…

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Bill Gates called for a doubling of foreign aid commitment. Even though historically, economic crises tend to suppress aid packages, I couldn’t agree more that maintaining and increasing aid is in the US’ strategic interests.

No, I’m not affiliated with USAID. Not surprisingly, Germany increased aid– knock on wood– …

When this administration blundered into war it soon became apparent that our goal isn’t finding and killing the enemy. It’s about rehabilitating zones of chaos where dangerous ideologies grow and breed. The world’s path to progress and stability is increasingly threatened by alarming headlines of terrorist nature, troubling in the fact that their roots lie in failing or failed states, which are numerous and growing in number.

In the fight against terrorism, it is not about crusading for democracy and regime change in a handful of countries. We need soft diplomacy: nation-building and developing government capacity in the world’s poorest economies, difficult when the lines between security and development are no longer so clear-cut. Aid can be an effective way to export value systems (since Hollywood exports no longer work) and elicit goodwill (since we squandered that with our 2003 invasion of Iraq), and equity negotiation is one of the least common denominators to maintaining stability in American suburbia.

An aside: With aid diplomacy so crucial to foreign policy strategy, it’s a wonder that aid approaches have little changed since its inception at Bretton Woods….? But I digress, that’s another post.

Starting in 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both started calling for a transformational diplomacy, delivering speeches that finally resonate with logic: “…the lines separating war, peace, diplomacy and development have become more blurred and no longer fit the neat organizational charts of the 20th century.”

Rice and Gates jump-started this dialogue about using federal agencies to empower people to install good governance in troubled spots around the world. And Obama thankfully embraced their language. Both Hillary Clinton and James Jones are advocates of this strategy, suggesting that cooperation is possible between the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the State Department.

If this strategy is put into action, it’s a welcome continuity from this administration.

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