Foreign Aid Reform Critical for Success in Defense Secretary Gates's proposal on Smart Power

By mborum

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WASHINGTON, DC ? International agency Oxfam America today urged Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Defense Eric S. Edelman to follow Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's lead and call for reinvestment in staffing and funding for development and diplomacy. With defense, these are the three pillars of effective US foreign policy strategy. Currently, defense is heavily favored at the expense of development and diplomacy. Negroponte and Edelman will testify this afternoon before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations regarding the military?s role in foreign policy.

At a recent event at the US Global Leadership Campaign, Defense Secretary Gates led the call for greater balance when he remarked, ?It has become clear that America?s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and under-funded for far too long?relative to what we spend on the military, and more important, relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world.?

?Defense Secretary Gates is advocating for a smart power approach to US foreign policy, and we cannot have smart power unless we have smart development,? said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. ?Smart development means the US must prioritize long-term poverty alleviation alongside defense and diplomacy concerns.?

According to Oxfam, America?s glaring lack of investment in development is evident when one considers that in the 1990s, 37 percent of the US Agency for International Development?s (USAID) workforce left without being replaced. USAID, which has traditionally led US foreign assistance efforts, also saw direct hires working in the field drop by 29 percent from 2002 to 2005. Oxfam states that while some strides have been made to increase and restructure overseas aid, much greater reform of US foreign aid is needed to ensure that the long-term needs of the poor?not politics?come first.

?The next president and his administration have a chance to put smart development in practice to create a better foreign aid system?a better international face for the US?that will help lift millions from poverty and re-establish US global standing,? said Offenheiser.

Oxfam recently released Smart Development: Why US Foreign Aid Demands Major Reform. In it, the agency outlines its approach to smart development including implementing development in the context of the other forces at work in various societies, helping states govern effectively, creating markets that function fairly and working with poor people to achieve the basic tools to generate their own wealth over time.

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