Foreign Assistance: A Strategic Investment

December 3, 2011
Young Girl Next to USAID Bags of Sorghum

This is a remarkably busy season for American diplomacy. Just this week, Secretary Clinton became the first American Secretary of State in more than 50 years to visit Burma and she went to Busan, South Korea, to participate in a major conference on the effectiveness of foreign assistance. On Wednesday, November 30, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides sat down with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour to discuss why it is so important for the United States to have the resources necessary to engage in the world. You can watch their interview here.

Comments

Comments

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
December 4, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

@ Jonathan Kaplan: Smart Foreign Assistance-

Thank you for the post.

When Five former Secretaries of State stand unified in defense of smart foreign assistance as strategic investment it is for good reason. They stand in defense of the future prosperity of the nation.

Commitment to "strategic investment" will decide the "leveraging" prowess the US has to compete on the global scale and given our interdependence, it would be wise to have leverage and as much of it as possible.

To engage or not may be current in candidates debate discussions but "smart assistance" reflects the necessary adjustments and flexibility in today's changing world. Intervention to humanitarian crisis with international partners to stop terrorist groups from blockage of aid in Somalia is a recent example that may require budget adjustments as the line between national security and aid assistance becomes blurred.

Furthermore,evidence of investment return has shown to be quite positive,it pays to engage!

Choosing to ignore the policy of "smart power" and turning our backs to aid,education and trade opportunities in the short term signifies a moral lack of authority and compass,lost.

If polled Americans support that approximately ten percent of the national budget be appropriated for foreign assistance already assuming far more is being spent for this purpose(up to twenty-five) then all the more reason for our former Secretaries to speak out.

L.Evens
|
Canada
December 4, 2011

L. Evens in Canada writes:

Smart power does not always need to cost money - that's smart.

Creativity and a willingness to do things in a different way - can make all the difference in the world.

Zharkov
|
United States
December 5, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Nobody is stopping you from writing a pesonal check to your favorite dictator or government.

When you spend government money, you need to have constitutional power to do so, and that doesn't exist.

Congress has only the power to "regulate" commerce with foreign nations - the US Supreme Court long ago decided that gifts of public funds are illegal.

Just because something is a good thing to do doesn't make it a legal thing to do.

We all have the power individually to contribute to the economic development of other countries and we may be encouraged to do so by buying their products and services, but our government is supposed to govern us, not them and not make them better off with gifts and loans of money taken from American workers.

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
December 5, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Just thinking Zharkov...

What would be the point then of the State Dept.Blog? Imagine the semantics...

Your thoughts,ideas and (a few) criticisms would not have a voice on a government website such as this because it would probably be considered as an extra expense to taxpayers not wanting to engage in the world.

You would not be able to scrutinize the government in a very open forum such as this because the tax dollars would not be there to support it.

If our government was not to interact with other nations using a very reasonable one percent of the entire national budget- then I wonder what kind of decadent society we would become?

This is about the long and steady game where investment hopefully does come back to the American worker competing in a global society and while we're at it- helping others.

Zharkov
|
United States
December 6, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Maureen, I think the point of this blog is to amuse bored officials and I can't think of a better investment of tax dollars because this blog is "Made in America" and a proper function of the executive branch to plague the public with heavy doses of Orwellian propaganda.

If the budget choice was to fund this blog or a war with Syria, I'd skip the war and go with the blog. Now, if you spent money in Syria to set up a blog for President Assad, that would be an illegal gift of public funds. Do you understand the difference?

No doubt there are dissenters around the State Department and CFR who are good people, and they can't be embarrassed by someone occasionally posting the truth. Let it all hang out like we are forced to do at airport security, shall we?

As for your foreign aid logic, imagine a taxpayer robbing a government official and offering the defense that if he hadn't stolen the money and spent it on food for his family, his sons would grow up to become robbers out of necessity and hunger.

So robbing the official benefits the public and is in the national interest, but the law does not permit it.

As for America sliding into a decadent society, the State Department can't do a thing about that. The Senate's "National Defense Authorization Act" explicitly authorizes decadence in the form of the military’s indefinite detention without trial of American citizens and mandates that all non-citizens charged as terrorists - including those arrested on US soil - be detained indefinitely by the military rather than brought to trial in a civilian court.

I think a government can't get more decadent than declaring its citizens to be potential terrorist suspects, molesting them at airports and train stations, and wiretapping all of their communications.

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
December 8, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

@ Zharkov

Let's assume you are not a "bored official" whatever that implies...Personally, I like to pull positive from negative because it is how we get stuff done.

Agreed- that we both see the utility of the blog, right? Great. That may be the only thing we agree upon but that's fine with me because I respect your comments, differing opinions and participation. Thanks.

That being said I choose to comment on your last sentence in regard to terrorism because a well informed citizen knows that terrorism exists, still. Recently,(very recently) several domestic attempts have been thwarted which would not be an example of a society in decadence. Admittedly, many travelers are inconvenienced by the measures in place but this would be a Homeland Security issue... The logic is that citizens want to be safe and security is part of prevention.

Since I already know you may disagree with my interpretation :)- what is your solution to terrorism not being intercepted due to non- vigilance? Should we just let it happen or hope it won't? Should we just say that since it is an annoyance to wait at airport security we should therefore ignore reality? Perhaps you could devise a plan for a more efficient, cost effective security system for Homeland Security. You may win a grant.

I don't mind airport security. Constant revaluation and input from everyone will be our friend to safe travel.

Terrorism doesn't start at airports or train stations...piracy at sea, hijacking. The big picture is the real envelope of terrorism.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
December 9, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Maureen in Mass,

Well... you could interpret; "I think the point of this blog is to amuse bored officials..." as a cry for attention from Z in the hopes he might just get a rise out of an official who took some exception to his comment (chuckle).

You never know who reads these things.

Best,

EJ

Zharkov
|
United States
December 9, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Maureen, I can't give you all the information you lack. You have to read the historical research yourself to learn the whole truth.

First, all US government information is compartmentalized even if it has no security classification. US government agencies do not routinely share information even if they are tasked for that purpose. Consequently, few government employees see the whole picture but only the part that is "positive" or upbeat as portrayed by their agencies. Do you need an example?

The reason for crotch searches by
TSA? The Detroit Christmas (underwear) bomber was deliberately and intentionally allowed to keep his US entry visa as the result of a national security override issued by an as yet unknown US intelligence or law enforcement agency with the goal of blocking the State Department’s planned revocation of that visa.

This disclosure was the result of hearings held on January 27 before the House Homeland Security Committee, and in particular of the testimony of Patrick F. Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management.

It's in the official record - you can read his testimony yourself. I didn't write it for him. And for months our government claimed that eye witnesses to it were wrong, until Kennedy told the truth.

Yes, there are some real terrorists in the world - that has always been true, but we have not always had to submit to a police state for our security.

You should know that the Patriot Act was drafted long before 9/11 and awaited an event to justify it to Congress. Look it up - nobody could draft that huge document in a matter of hours after 9/11.

So a picture emerges of homeland "terrorism" to be an inside job, exactly as claimed by former a German Intelligence Chief, a former Italian Prime Minister, and others who have no particular grudge or reason to fabricate lies against the U.S.

Syria and Iran had nothing to do with 9/11, and terrorism is a "red-herring" issue for the purposes of "standing with Syria".

Syria is not our problem. It wasn't 19 Syrian citizens who brought terrorism to America.

Neither of us see the whole picture in Syria, but we know what happened to Mossadegh in Iran, Hussein in Iraq, and Gadaffi in Libya, so connecting the dots isn't difficult.

America isn't Israel. We don't need Israeli-strength security. In America you are in more danger from a routine flu vaccination or a bee sting than from arab terrorism. The official, domestic overreaction to 9/11 is breathtaking and completely unjustified.

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
December 9, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

@ Zharkov

Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy is a role model for aspiring leaders in the United States! Even the mention of his name on this blog has symbolic significance. Wow!

Though I did not bring up compartmentalization of information it is an intriguing topic for security experts. Should have, would have with information pertaining to 9/11. You have not explained how in fact terrorism attempts have been thwarted though since 9/11. Perhaps compartmentalization issues have changed?

Where I come from we have a huge amount of respect for police and security, we are Patriots.

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