Natsios, Fontaine Join Experts to Talk Poverty, Foreign Policy, and Their Impact on National Security

By Oxfam

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Today at the Republican National Convention, eight leaders in the area of foreign policy and national security called on the next President to reform America?s approach to national security and international development. Panelists including Ambassador Andrew S. Natsios, distinguished professor in practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University, and Richard Fontaine, foreign policy advisor for McCain '08, discussed critical steps and considerations for the next President to reestablish America as a respected world leader.

?Right now, US foreign aid is not doing all it can to reduce poverty. As commodities, goods, labor, and services cross borders with increasing speed, so do disease, ideology, and unrest. Skyrocketing food prices have set off riots in countries across the world where people were already living on a knife?s edge,? said Raymond C. Offenheiser, panelist, and president of international relief and development agency Oxfam America. ?In this closer, more interdependent world, persistent poverty anywhere in the world threatens our own future. The next president must reform US foreign aid so that it more effectively reduces poverty.?

Oxfam is advocating that four reforms be prioritized by the US to deal with the global challenges of the 21st century. The US needs to create a national development strategy, rationalize its aid structure, rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act, and get its development agencies more resources and authority.

?Global interdependency has made issues like poverty increasingly a national security issue, but our current foreign aid system is a vestige of the Cold War and ill-equipped for the challenges of today,? said panelist Jim Kolbe, senior transatlantic fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States and former Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in the US Congress. ?The United States must help build institutions, rule of law, and economic development in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Making our aid more effective and increasing international cooperation will be critical to addressing such threats in the next U.S. administration.?

The panel, The Future of US Foreign Assistance: Effective Development and National Security, was part of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs? America?s Future series during the Republican National Convention. A panel discussion examined options for the fundamental reform and modernization of United States? approach to international development and security. It addressed security measures aimed to fight poverty, encourage economic development around the world, and build a lasting national security framework for Americans at home and abroad.

Other panelists included: US Rep. John Boozman (R-AR), House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Hon. Vin Weber, chairman, National Endowment for Democracy; Hon. Michael Wilson, Canadian ambassador to the United States of America. The moderator was Matthew McLean, vice president, Millennium Challenge Corporation. The event was hosted by the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

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