Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the Obama administration has elevated aid for development to the highest priority on the government's agenda. Clinton stressed that investing in development is more cost effective than financing military intervention,although she did not exclude military efforts as part of U.S. foreign policy.
“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.
The final session of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition gathered top administration officials who explained the new global development policy.
President Barack Obama presented the policy last week in a speech before the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit.
The new directive for distributing U.S. money for development is based on three pillars:
- sustainable development outcomes in countries that show economic growth,democratic governance,innovation and systems to meet basic human needs,according to a summary on the coalition's website;
- a new operational model that will create a more effective partnership with countries receiving aid;
- better coordination and modernization among federal government agencies whose focus is managing development programs.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the change will focus on creating conditions for development in troubled countries. Gates said the new policy will seek to prevent conflicts that otherwise might force a U.S.-lead military intervention.
“Without development,we will not be successful in either Iraq or Afghanistan,” Gates said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said countries receiving aid must be more effective in controlling corruption and accounting for spending and results.
“This policy improves the odds we will use these scarce resources more effectively,” Geithner said.
About 1.4 percent of the annual federal budget goes to international,non-military aid. USAID's aid budget for 2010 is $19.5 billion. The largest donations in 2009 and the first half of 2010 went to Haiti ($334 million),Afghanistan ($199 million) and the Republic of Georgia ($132 million).
One condition the U.S. will examine is how well countries collect taxes from their citizens,Clinton said. She said the Pakistan finance minister has presented a new plan to increase tax collection in that country.
Protecting a free press and democratic principles will continue to play a key role in how U.S. aid is distributed among countries. Clinton said that some close international partners haven't made as much progress in freedom of speech or democratic systems,as they have the economies and reducing social inequalities.
The policy is “a license to take that knowledge and make some real shifts in how we allocate resources and design programs,” Rajiv Shah,administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development,said.
Daniel Yohannes,chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corp.,an institution created in 2004,underscored the importance of projects conceived and completed by countries receiving aid as a way to produce permanent social and economic progress.
Yohannes cited as an example a project in Honduras linking farmers to markets. He said the projects “were done on time,on budget and with good results because the projects were done by Hondurans.”
Within five years,Gates said the new foreign aid policy will reduce conflicts and prevent new wars. Geithner said the new global development approach will reinforce U.S. work with multilateral institutions.
Clinton said the new policy will raise awareness that U.S. international aid is essential for national security and domestic economic growth