Rising U.S. debt is a huge national security problem that must be tackled now, the leader of the House said Monday.
"It's time to stop talking about fiscal discipline and national security threats as if they're separate topics: debt is a national security threat, one of the greatest we know of," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Unsustainable debt has a long history of toppling world powers."
Hoyer didn't call outright for cutting defense spending, but he did say that the United States needs to shift away from a focus on military power, increased focus on development, and examine on the root causes of anti-Americanism, while still prosecuting the war against violent extremists.
"America's military is a powerful weapon, but it is not the only one we have," he said. "We cannot afford to turn our backs on any weapon in our arsenal."
In one sense, Hoyer is echoing the Obama administration's policy as set forth in the recent National Security Strategy, which went farther than ever before in arguing that a strong economic base is the foundation of U.S. national power.
"First and foremost, we must renew the foundation of America's strength. In the long run, the welfare of the American people will determine America's strength in the world, particularly at a time when our own economy is inextricably linked to the global economy," the document reads. "Our prosperity serves as a wellspring for our power."
At last weekend's G-20 summit, the world's top economies pledged to half deficits by 2013. The Obama administration reportedly resisted such austerity measures inside the negotiations, and the prospects of the United States reaching that goal are slim. The White House would prefer to delay tackling the budget until the global economic recovery is on more solid footing.
Hoyer is calling for president's debt commission to tackle the problem now and for a budget agreed to be signed immediately, even if actual measures won't be implemented until the economy is stronger.
"An agreement like that, to be implemented after the economy has fully recovered, is a necessity today," he said.
The White House and the Democrats in Congress, the House especially, haven't seen eye to eye on several economic policy issues lately. Only last week, Hoyer announced the Congress won't even pass a budget resolution this year, instead passing a "budget enforcement plan" that would allow the administration to spend $7 billion less than what it requested last year but would also allow Congress to avoid preparing a long-term budget plan before the November elections.
"It isn't possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget until we've considered the bipartisan commission's deficit-reduction plan, which is expected in December," Hoyer said.
Congress has yet to pass fiscal 2010 war funding, despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates's warning that the military would have to start doing "stupid things" to make ends meet if the money isn't delivered soon.
In a light-hearted joke during his event today at the National Press Club, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah sought to put to rest previously non-existent rumors that he might seek the nation's highest elected office.
Referring to Shah's meteoric rise to head a major government agency at a relatively young age, event moderator and National Press Club President Alan Bjerga said, "You worked at the Gates Foundation, you worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as its chief scientist, you are the head of USAID, but for some people in this room that is not enough.... Development experts have said the USAID chief position should be elevated to cabinet status or to a seat on the NSC. Do you agree?"
"I thought you were going a different place with that question," Shah responded, "In case anybody wants to know, I really wasn't running for president at all."
The remarks got a laugh from the crowd of assembled development community practitioners and journalists assembled to hear Shah speak. He went on to address Bjerga's actual question by indicating he is satisfied with the seniority and power of his position as USAID chief.
"I know in this administration we have a huge amount of support at all levels. And I've been fortunate to have as much access as I could possibly ask for to help carry out this mission," Shah said. "We have supporters everywhere. What we need to do is execute on our mission."
Shah also expressed confidence in the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to head the overall drive to reform development at State and USAID, in response to a question put forth by The Cable over whether he agreed with what most observers see at Clinton's drive to place USAID under the control of the State Department.
"I proudly work for Secretary Clinton, she's an incredible leader.... She's elevating development to make USAID a more significant, more important, and better resourced organization," he said. "I actually see all of this coming together as really elevating development ... and certainly elevating in a very significant and fundamental way USAID."
In his prepared remarks, Shah touted that USAID has rebuilt its policy-planning staff and is also in the process of making large-scale reforms to budgeting, innovation policies, procurement, and evaluation.
"We will rebuild USAID's budget accountability with a strong focus on getting better results for U.S. taxpayers," he said. "We will pursue a development strategy that is based on focus, scale, and impact. We will focus in fewer sectors in each country of work. We will pursue those efforts that can scale to reach a large percentage of people in need. And we will assess missions based on their achievements -- not the process indicators that often substitute for real results."
Shah also promised that both of the administration's major reviews on development policy -- the State Department's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the White House's Presidential Study Directive on Global Development (PSD-7) -- will be released to the public.
The PSD-7 will come first, sometime this summer, and the QDDR will be released this fall, Shah said.
The State QDDR team briefed Hill staffers on the QDDR this week. One Congressional aide said that State is now aiming for a release in late September or early October. As The Cable reported before, however, the interim report on the QDDR will not be released at all.
Even though the administration's two major policy reviews on development are missing in action and the U.S. Agency for International Development is still full of senior vacancies, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is moving ahead with his promise to give the agency back its capability to think strategically by building an official policy planning staff.
"This new bureau, bolstered by the agency's many technical assets, represents an essential step toward achieving President Barack Obama's and Secretary Clinton's vision of regaining USAID's status as a premier development agency," Shah wrote in an email to all USAID employees Monday.
For now, Lawrence (Larry) Garber will head up the effort as the acting assistant to the administrator for the brand new Bureau of Policy Planning and Learning. Garber will be one of two deputy assistant administrators in the bureau, Shah said. He has had a long career in development, including as CEO of the New Israel Fund from 2004 to 2009.
The new policy bureau will essentially consolidate policy-planning functions that were previously spread out in various parts of USAID, but good spots are still open ... so USAID employees, there's still time to get your applications in.
Some top jobs, however, are already taken. They include:
Leticia (Tish) Butler as acting director, Office of Policy
Alex Dehgan as director, Office of Science and Technology
Jason Foley as director, Office of Strategic and Program Planning
Karen Turner as acting director, Office of Donor Engagement
Julie Kunen as senior advisor
Shah also said USAID will also establish an Office of Budget and Resource Management soon, although it's not clear whether that office will actually control USAID's budget.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington called on the Obama administration Monday to lead an effort to raise another $45 billion for maternal and child health at the upcoming meetings of the G-8 and G-20 in Canada.
"We need U.S. leadership. I hope the U.S. will come out with strong additional support," Ban said, noting that the U.S. government has invested in programs to combat HIV/AIDS but arguing that it must now make the same level of commitment on child and maternal health. "I know President Obama and Secretary Clinton will exercise their strong leadership role in the G-8 and the G-20."
Ban declined to say how much exactly the new U.S. contribution should be, but he did say he spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the issue recently.
"As the world's biggest leader and power, the U.S. should be able to mobilize, together with major donors, strong financial support," Ban said. "I know the economic situation is quite difficult, but still, the economic situation should not give any excuse to give any less attention on this. There must be strong and focused attention by the U.S. government."
Ban stopped in Washington to attend the "Women Deliver" conference being held Monday at the convention center and spoke to reporters with Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates. The Gates Foundation announced Monday a new $1.5 billion commitment to maternal and child heath.
Gates said that the U.S. government must "step up" the way that the new British government has done and commit to funding this effort.
"You need to see these developed nations step up and say ‘This is the right thing to do,'" she said. "That's how you get leadership on this."
The effort is part of Ban's drive to meet the deadlines laid out in the Millennium Development Goals, specifically goals four and five, which set out ambitious targets for reducing deaths for mothers and their children by 2015.
None of the new Gates money will go to fund abortions, Gates said, and the U.N. has no official position on abortion other than to support its safety where legal, Ban explained. One out of seven deaths among pregnant women result from illegal or unsafe abortions, but this will not be a focus of the new initiative.
Ban said the initiative dovetails with the third Millennium Development challenge goal of "gender empowerment," even though it doesn't address women's rights or human rights directly.
"To be empowered, women should be healthy. That's the basic starting point," Ban said. "Human rights is a cross-cutting agenda ... Simply because there is less mention of human rights does not mean there is a lack of willingness."
Hey, development community readers, have you been wondering what ever happened to the QDDR interim report, which was supposedly being released in March? As it turns out, the interim report was finished, but is not going to be publicly released at all.
Administration sources confirmed to The Cable that the State Department's first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Defense Review is chugging along toward its target completion date in September. The review will set policy for all sorts of important issues relating to the way that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operate.
But although State repeatedly promised outside groups interested in the QDDR that they would get a public report halfway through the process, back in April the decision was made not to release an interim report at all. Here's what went down.
The interim report was originally scheduled for release in January. But as it made its way through the interagency process, it got bogged down because various stakeholders wanted various changes. The date got pushed back again and again until early April.
At that point, the White House was finishing up its own overall development policy review, the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development (PSD-7), and getting into the final stages of the writing of the National Security Strategy (NSS), another huge interagency process. (A draft version of the PSD-7 was published exclusively on The Cable here and the NSS was also published first on The Cable here.)
According to administration sources, at an April deputies committee meeting, it was decided that the sequencing for the documents should be NSS first, PSD-7 next, and QDDR interim report after that. The NSS was released in late May. The final version of PSD-7 is also missing in action, but could be released anytime, although not necessarily to the public.
Given all that, by the time State would be able to release the QDDR interim report, it wouldn't really represent the current state of play, sources explained. Moreover, the time and effort required to roll out the thing would have taken the whole schedule off course.
The interim report covered "Phase 1," which is all about identifying the problem, not specifying solutions. Today is actually the due date for reports on "Phase 2," and now State has added "Phase 3," or the wrap-up phase, which will commence shortly. The interim report is now only being used internally to inform the other phases, officials say.
There's also been a drop-off since April in consultations with Capitol Hill, and some staffers reported that they hadn't heard anything from State about the QDDR in weeks. Administration sources said that consultations with select staffers were ongoing and would pick up again when they process got a little further along.
Meanwhile, not everybody outside the administration is thrilled that they won't actually see the interim report as promised. "They hyped the interim report and now they're saying it's worthless so we shouldn't care," said one slightly bitter development leader. "Nice."
"Our sense is that the lack of communication regarding the QDDR is due to the fact that the administration continues to lack consensus at higher policy levels about what it intends to achieve both with the White House-led PSD process and with State/AID's QDDR," said one congressional aide. "We had hoped that at this juncture we would receive a clearer signal about the direction and shape of foreign aid reform, but clearly there continues to be much disagreement and discussion over in the executive just what the best path forward is."
In unveiling his first formal National Security Strategy Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama called for "a strategy of national renewal and global leadership," emphasizing U.S. economic strength as the foundation of American power and promising to deepen U.S. alliances and partnerships around the world.
The Cable has obtained the text of the 52-page document, which the White House is planning to roll out later today.
The NSS was the product of months of deliberation and consultation inside the administration. Its lead author is Ben Rhodes, the president's lead foreign-policy speechwriter and a deputy national security advisor. It represents both a repudiation of some of the most controversial aspects of the Bush-era strategy and a continuation of many of its key elements.
The opening letter from President Obama begins with a call to arms:
"Time and again in our nation's history, Americans have risen to meet -- and to shape -- moments of transition. This must be one of those moments," it starts. "We live in a time of sweeping change. The success of free nations, open markets, an social progress in recent decades has accelerated globalization on an uprecedented scale."
He then pivots sharply to the tense national security atmosphere and the war against Islamic extremism -- though the word "Islamic" is no longer in the document, as the administration seeks to head off concerns that the United States is at war with the Muslim world:
"For nearly a decade, our nation has been at war with a far-reaching network of violence and hatred," it reads. "Moreover, as we face multiple threats -- from nations, non-state actors, and failed states -- we will maintain the military superiority that has secured our country, and underpinned global security, for decades."
Nodding repeatedly to the economic turmoil that has so far defined his 16 months in office, Obama calls for a focus on strengthening the U.S. economy:
"Yet as we fight the wars in front of us, we must see the horizon behind them -- a world in which America is stronger, more secure, and is able to overcome our challenges while appealing to the aspirations of the people around the world. To get there we must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership -- a strategy that rebuilds the foundation of American strength and influence."
The opening letter makes arguments for all the national-security themes Obama has emphasized since coming to office: integrating defense with diplomacy and development, using all the instruments of national power, rebuilding old alliances while adding new ones, and sharing the responsiblities of world governance based on common interests.
"The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone," Obama wrote.The Cable - The Obama administration's National Security Strategy, May 2010
As he works to overhaul a Cold War agency long neglected and widely described as in desperate need of reform, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says there's a player in the development game: women farmers.
"We know the people who matter most aren't the financiers, or the agriculture ministers, or the assistance workers and farmers. They are the women farmers who are the untapped solution to this problem," Shah said in a speech Thursday.
"Women are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the food in countries where we work and when women receive gains in income, they are far more likely to spend those gains improving their families' access to health and education," he said.
Crediting the personal involvement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ambassador for global women's issues, Melanne Verveer, Shah said, "We now focus on women in everything we do."
How do they do that? For example, by focusing on farm products that "enhance" the standing of women, such as on sweet potatoes and legumes, and increasing financial services and educational support targeted at women.
Ambassador William Garvelink has been tapped to implemented the new Feed the Future initiative, along with a Deputy
Coordinator for Diplomacy, which includes ensuring FTF is aligned with other food security-related programs and
policies across the government. USAID is the lead implementing agency for this initiative.
Shah was speaking at a symposium put on by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which released a report Thursday entitled "Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty." The report proposes ways the U.S. government can help the 600 million rural poor in Africa and South Asia who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
"The solution to their plight lies in a sustained, long-term effort to increase agricultural productivity on smallholder farms," the report states. "Lacking for too long has been firm and sustained leadership from the U.S. president and Congress that commits America to strong partnerships with African and Asian institutions in a frontal attack on this critical cause of global poverty."
Shah said USAID is working to shift its focus to more locally driven approaches to food security and agricultural development, giving recipient countries more input into the aid process. And he hailed the Chicago Council's focus on improving agricultural yields. "The Chicago Council report ... asks the U.S. to lead a second green revolution, and we completely agree," said Shah.
The State Department didn't hold a press briefing Monday, as many top officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are in New York for the kickoff of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
So the only official readout from State's press shop today comes from official statements mailed from the press office and the brand new Twitter account of Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley. (@pjcrowley)
Crowley is only the latest administration official to take to Twitter, and we hope his feed won't become a replacement for direct interactions with the public and the press. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (@presssec) has come under criticism for seemingly bypassing the White House press corps by breaking news on his Twitter account, such as the announcement that President Obama was delaying his trip to Indonesia.
So far today, Crowley has four tweets, including reiterating the administration's position on Iran's nuclear program. Here are his first day's tweets:
2:53 PM: Hello world. Excited to be here on Twitter. Looking forward to our global conversation.
3:08 PM: At #UN, President Ahmadinejad claims that #Iran accepted TRR offer. But Iran has yet to respond to #IAEA. The ball remains in Iran's court.
4:03 PM: At #UN, rather than answer questions about his nuclear program, President Ahmadinejad tried to hide the ball. We aren't playing his game.
4:04 PM: At the #UN, #SecClinton pledged the U.S. will do its part to strengthen the #NPT. Didn't see anyone walk out in protest.
One of the State Department's e-mail fact sheets on the NPT review conference contains Clinton's announcement Monday that she is starting a campaign that seeks to raise $100 million over the next five years "to broaden access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy," with $50 million to be raised from outside the U.S.
"The funds are to significantly expand support for projects sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), addressing energy and important humanitarian purposes, such as cancer treatment and fighting infectious diseases, food and water security, and the development of infrastructure for the safe, secure use of civil nuclear power," State's fact sheet reads, "These efforts will be aimed to assist developing countries."
The White House is moving closer to finishing a sweeping review of U.S. development strategy that aims to put development on par with diplomacy and defense as a "central pillar" of U.S. national security, according to sources familiar with the issue.
The Cable has obtained a draft copy (pdf) of the review, which is titled "A New Way Forward on Global Development" and is known internally as the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development or PSD-7.
"The Obama Administration recognizes that the successful pursuit of development is essential to our security, prosperity, and values," the draft document reads. It promises a "new approach to global development that focuses our government on the critical task of helping to create a world with more prosperous and democratic states."
Sources cautioned that the draft document was presented at a deputies committee meeting two weeks ago and has been updated since. But they said that certain key passages have already exacerbated tensions between the National Security Council and the State Department, which is finalizing the interim report for its own wholesale policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). The NSC declined to comment.
One important section of the seven-page document would establish an interagency "development policy committee" -- moving the responsibility for coordinating U.S. policy on development out of the State Department.
At issue is whether Foggy Bottom should have the ultimate authority over development policy or whether oversight should be done by the new interagency body, which reports up to the president.
The draft document also calls for an overall review of U.S. development strategy every four years (separate from the QDDR), and the design of country and/or regional strategies to "organize U.S. engagement and inform resource allocation."
The idea of a government-wide, independent committee to oversee development is one that Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, also support.
The draft also outlines of how the relationship between State and USAID should work -- and those outlines don't jive with how we hear the QDDR is shaping up. For example, the document says that USAID should have "responsibility and accountability for a core development and humanitarian assistance budget," as well as a robust policy planning staff, a leadership role in setting strategies and the "mandate, where appropriate, to lead U.S. government development efforts in the field."
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah would "be included in NSC meetings where appropriate" if this draft document's recommendations were adopted, but he would also still report up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not directly to the White House as some might hope.
Officials have indicated that in State's QDDR, USAID would also get its own policy planning staff but would probably not control its own budget. State Department officials argue that by keeping control over USAID's budget, they would be in a stronger position to advocate for it.
"You can see many things here that try to establish more balance and reorient the authority over development back toward the NSC and the White House," said one development leader closely observing the process. "Each of those things could invite some pushback from State."
Overall, the document is a good draft, this observer said, noting that it could go through several revisions before being finalized. "We're not hugely supportive of the USAID administrator reporting to the secretary of state, but a lot of this is largely positive in terms of strategy and overall direction."
The QDDR is led by Shah and Deputy Secretary Jack Lew, with heavy input from Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter. The PSD-7 is led by top NSC aides Gayle Smith, Michael Froman, and Jeremy Weinstein.
The interim report of the QDDR is expected to be released soon. There has never been a promise from the White House that the PSD-7 would be released publicly.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
President Obama and a slew of cabinet and high ranking administration officials will drop in over the next two days on the Muslim community entrepreneurship conference going on in Washington, DC.
Downtown at the Ronald Reagan building, 250 "entrepreneurs" from five continents are meeting Monday and Tuesday for what the White House is calling the "Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship," and billing as a fulfillment of one of the promises Obama made last April during his landmark speech on U.S.-Muslim relations in Cairo.
Obama himself addressed the summit Monday evening, and answered the question many had apparently been asking him.
"Given all the security, political and social challenges that we face, why a summit on entrepreneurship? Well, the answer is simple," Obama said, "Because you told us that this is an area where we can learn from each other."
That wasn't the only reason. Obama went on to say that "throughout history, the market has been the most powerful force the world has ever known for creating opportunity and lifting people out of poverty," and, "because it's in our mutual economic interest." Ok, anything else? One more.
"Because, as I learned as a community organizer in Chicago, real change comes from the bottom up, from the grassroots, starting with the dreams and passion of a single individual serving their community."
Obama then gave a shout out to some top tech execs who made the trip, including Yahoo's Jerry Yang and Facebook's Chris Hughes, as well as some of the entrepreneurs that he met at the event.
No foreign government officials are attending the conference, which is being run jointly by the State Department and the Commerce Department, but several U.S. officials are making speeches. Today the conference heard from Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and of course, Obama himself.
National Economic Council Director Larry Summers will start the festivities Tuesday, followed by Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Pradeep Ramamurthy, a senior director for global engagement at the White House, and others. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give the closing remarks.
USAID's Shah led a panel on "access to capital" and unveiled a new USAID initiative on that front.
"Through partnerships with the World Bank and with Babson College, we will work with willing governments and their business communities and universities to identify and facilitate needed reforms," he said, "We look forward to partnering with 15 reform-minded countries to introduce streamlined, low-cost and customer-focused business regulation reforms."
A top Obama military policy advisor and Afghanistan war veteran is moving from the Pentagon to take up a senior position at the US Agency for International Development.
Craig Mullaney was a key Obama campaign advisor and part of Obama's Pentagon transition team. Until today, he was the principal director for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia at the Office of the Secretary of Defense policy shop. Starting Monday, he will be USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah's senior advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues.
The move is a step up for Mullaney, who was a natural fit for the OSD policy job but always had a preference for intellectual policy work over the largely administrative tasks that a desk officer is subsumed with on a daily basis.
"The job he's had in the Pentagon was to make the trains run on time, which was great for learning the interagency process, but at USAID he will more of an opportunity to be doing more of the policy work he loves," said Andrew Exum, a friend who also works at the Center for a New American Security.
Before signing on the Obama presidential campaign, Mullaney was a West Point grad, Rhodes scholar, and Army Ranger. He earned the Bronze Star and several other medals during his time leading an infantry rifle platoon on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2003.
After coming home from war, he taught at the Naval Academy and wrote the book "The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education," which his personal website describes as "an unforgettable portrait of a young soldier grappling with the weight of his hard-earned knowledge while coming to grips with becoming a man," and the New York Times described as Mullaney's "attempt to reconcile the precombat lessons that seemed so clear to him with the exigencies of battlefield experience."
Here is the video trailer for Mullaney's book:
Find him on twitter here.
The Senate Budget Committee approved a resolution Thursday that cuts the foreign affairs budget by $4 billion, to the chagrin of everyone else involved in the foreign affairs budget debate.
"Our objectives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and the civilian component of our national security strategy depend on a strong budget and these cuts are an enormous mistake," Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-MA, said in a statement, "In this difficult budget climate, we all have to make tough choices, but the international affairs account is a smart, cost-effective investment that should be funded appropriately. Short-changing these programs delivers very little budget relief at enormous cost to our global efforts and America's leadership in the world."
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition has compiled the letters calling for a robust foreign affairs budget on its website, which included signatures from over 150 representatives and 31 senators.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote to Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, D-ND, on Wednesday calling on him to fully fund the administration's $58.5 billion request for State and USAID for fiscal 2011.
"I believe that full funding of these two budget accounts is necessary for our national security and for ensuring our continued leadership in the world," Gates wrote.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote to Conrad on Tuesday to point out that the increases requested are relatively modest and go mostly to supporting the increased State and USAID role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Full funding in FY11 will allow us to continue making tangible progress in securing the hard fought gains achieved in Iraq, and to continue supporting and deploying hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help stabilize dangerous but improving situations," she wrote.
The budget request still has many twists and turns to go through before it finally comes out on the other side of the legislative process. The House appropriations committee is expected to mark up its appropriations bill in May. And while it's possible appropriators could restore funds, that's going to be a difficult sell in a year where the fiscal outlook is not good and the political focus is on domestic problems.
"We're going to be a strong an advocate as we can be, but with 10 percent unemployment, urgent needs at home, a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and focus on creating jobs, there is no doubt that these factors make it a difficult political environment for expanding our foreign assistance and development budgets," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, told The Cable in February.
Following the highest-level meeting yet on Barack Obama's as-yet-unsettled development policy, there is still no resolution of some key differences between the State Department and the National Security Council, multiple sources told The Cable.
The meeting came as some in the development community expressed a mix of encouragement at the high-level attention and frustration at the administration's failure thus far to express a clear vision laying out the overarching goals of U.S. development policy.
The Tuesday Deputies Committee meeting was supposed to resolve differences between State's overall policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), led by Deputy Secretary Jack Lew and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, with heavy input from Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter, and the NSC's Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7), led by top NSC aides Gayle Smith, Michael Froman, and Jeremy Weinstein. Following the meeting, there is still no firm schedule for releasing the QDDR interim report, which had been expected.
While it's not clear what all the differences are right now between the QDDR and the PSD-7 --and the two reviews serve different functions -- one issue in dispute is whether or not there should be an independent body to oversee and evaluate all development programs and policies established outside the State Department. Sources said President Obama has shown personal interest in the reviews and has had meetings to talk about foreign assistance reform, but it's not clear at what level of detail.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, and ranking member Richard Lugar, R-IN, called for the creation of the new independent group, which would be known as the Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance (CORE), in their foreign aid legislation.
"We need a better way to evaluate which development programs work, which have minimal impact, and what factors determine success or failure. Our current system is unable to provide this analysis," a committee fact sheet on the bill explains. "This evaluation group would be based in the executive branch, but it would operate independently under the auspices of an interagency board."
Congressional sources said that they aren't expecting the interim report soon because they were told they would be briefed before the release and no briefing has yet been scheduled.
"State was looking to brief us very soon and now because of the fact that there wasn't a resolution [at the deputies meeting], the schedule is being re-evaluated," one congressional aide said.
Patrick Cronin, a former USAID official now with the Center for a New American Security, said that although the meeting didn't resolve all tensions between the QDDR and PSD, that doesn't mean the process isn't a healthy one.
"It seemed to be a positive meeting on both sides in many ways. But bureaucratically there are some tough fights," he said. "If you make the strong case for development, you are already in tension with a State Department that wants to put all development within the umbrella of State Department policy."
Sources tell The Cable that State is adamant about retaining oversight of development policy and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may become personally involved in advocating for that position -- motivated in part by a desire to amass as many budget resources under Foggy Bottom's umbrella as possible. Ultimately, President Obama will have to decide whether to side with State or the NSC, according to these sources, who are not directly involved in the process.
Meanwhile, the question of how the State Department wants to implement its stated goal to "integrate" the diplomacy and development missions is crucial, as many observers worry that development could become subsumed by the State Department's overall foreign-policy agenda.
Paul O'Brian, vice president for policy at Oxfam America, said it was important that both the QDDR and the PSD-7 avoid subordinating long-term development goals like access to education and clean water to U.S. security needs.
"People are going to look very hard at both documents and ask: Is the State Department serious about elevating development or is it politicizing it?"
"You have to be serious about development for development's sake."
USAID is already reconstituting the policy planning staff that it lost years ago and Administrator Rajiv Shah is expected to announce that formally in the coming weeks. But the question of whether or not USAID will get control of its budget, now under the purview of Deputy Secretary Jack Lew, remains unanswered.
The QDDR interim report, which covers "Phase 1" of the process, is not expected to address that issue directly.
"Phase 1 of the process was a strategic thinking exercise involving State, USAID, other U.S. Government agencies, and external stakeholders," reads a new State Department fact sheet on the QDDR. Phase 2 is focusing on the operational and institutional changes required to develop recommendations and put them into practice."
State says the final QDDR report will be out in September.
The need to reform USAID and the overall U.S. approach to development and foreign aid is the one thing that all sides can agree on.
"Many describe U.S. aid programs as fragmented, cumbersome, and not finely tuned to address the existing needs and U.S. national security interests," the Congressional Research Service wrote in an April 12 report.
"Criticisms include a lack of focus and coherence overall, too many agencies involved in delivering aid with inadequate coordination or leadership, lack of flexibility, responsiveness and transparency of aid programs, and a perceived lack of progress in some countries that have been aid recipients for decades."
NSC spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment, citing the NSC's policy of not talking about internal meetings.
Development-community leaders are gearing up for the release of the first peek at the State Department's overall policy review, amassing their forces in case the news is not of their liking.
The interim report for State's first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review has been delayed a few times, but now outside observers are being told the release is imminent. They are also being told to brace for some bad news (or at leas what they would consider bad news) about the direction the review is headed in terms of development organization and policy.
"We should prepare for the fact that we won't like some aspects of the report," read an email sent out by an umbrella group that is helping to coordinate the community in its dealings with State. "I don't know what those parts will be, but this underscores the need for us to organize our response in a timely manner."
The development community's main concerns include whether or not the U.S. Agency for International Development will have its policy planning staff and budget control restored, what the review will say about the future of USAID contracting, and what the announced "integration" of the diplomacy and development missions will mean in practice.
It's not clear that the interim report will tackle all of these issues, but the policy-planning staff is already being reconstructed and our sources say that control of the budget will probably stay with Deputy Secretary Jack Lew.
What we are hearing about the interim report is that is that it will explain the broader issues in question without getting into actual recommendations. It will also explain the narrower focus of the second phase, after which "actionable" recommendations will be announced.
The schedule is to release the full draft report in late summer and the final report in September, according to the email.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the administration's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, will travel to New York Thursday to undergo angioplasty due to possible clogged heart valves.
Steve Clemons, New America Foundation's foreign policy head and editor of the Washington Note, broke the news with Holbrooke's permission after he informed his staff at meeting Tuesday morning. From Steve's post:
Yesterday at 2 pm, Richard Holbrooke was told that he may have some clogged heart valves -- and is going in Thursday for an angiogram and further treatment in New York. He was supposed to travel with Jack Lew, Rajiv Shah and others with General David Petraeus on a major AfPak trip this week, but will have to forego that trip.
Holbrooke assured me that this kinds of things are routine now. He shared the news with Secretary of State Clinton last night -- and was in the process of contacting General Petraeus during our meeting.
When at the end of his staff meeting he conveyed this personal news to the 50 members of his team, he was very low key and laughing about it. There were looks of concern around the room -- but he looked at them in his paternal way paused and said with a wry grin as if he'd never offered this sort of thing to them before "Come talk to me. I want you to share all of your angioplasty stories with me."
We send along our best hopes and wishes to Holbrooke for a healthy diagnosis and speedy treatment. Holbrooke told Clemons he plans to be back to work on Monday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are testifying today about their request for new supplemental funding. A portion of this funding designated for the reconstruction of Haiti was sent to Congress on Wednesday.
President Obama sent Congress a request for an addition $2.8 billion to reimburse federal agencies for their outlays in the wake of Haiti's Januray earthquake and to provide for a few more months of recovery and reconstruction support there. $1.6 billion of that total is designated to go to State and USAID.
The rest of the funds would be spread around Washington, with significant totals going to the Defense Department ($655 million), the Treasury Department ($220 million), Health and Human Services ($220 million), the Department of Agriculture ($150 million), and the Department of Homeland Security ($60 million).
According to a State-USAID fact sheet obtained by The Cable, the World Bank has determined that $11.5 billion will be needed for Haiti's reconstruction. A U.N. donors conference is set for March 31 in New York. About $500 million, or one third, of the Haiti supplemental request for State and USAID will go to reimburse those agencies for money already spent, according to the fact sheet.
A spokesman for the House Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee said that the schedule for moving the aid is still undetermined, pending a decision by House leadership and appropriations chairman David Obey, D-WI.
Haitian President Rene Preval had asked for direct budget support (a black check) when he was in Washington earlier this month, but that's not really the way the U.S. provides foreign aid except in rare circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is getting ready to introduce legislation that would set the legal framework for aid to Haiti over the next several years to help it rebuild its economy.
"It lays out a policy framework and delineates key strategic objectives that would guide, in partnership with the Haitian government, how resources will be spent," said committee spokesperson Frederick Jones. That bill will pave the way for aid related to governance, security, urban development, agricultural development, environmental sustainability, health systems, education, and disability assistance, he said.
The Senate bill would also mandate a new position for someone to oversee all policy for Haiti (wasn't Rajiv Shah doing that?) and will surface following the next Congressional recess.
"It puts in place appropriate accountability measures so Congress and the public can transparently know where money is going and what progress has been achieved," Jones said.
Former President George W. Bush has already wiped his hands of the Haiti issue, it seems.
As if the endorsement of Defense Secretary Robert Gates weren't enough, the development community has rounded up 50 senior retired military officers to support its drive to shift money and authorities from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom.
"While our military power can provide the logistics and organizational support to help those in need in times of humanitarian crisis, as demonstrated by our current efforts in Haiti, it can only help create the conditions necessary to allow the other tools of statecraft - our diplomatic, development and humanitarian programs - to effectively address these issues," reads a letter to Congress organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a network of more than 400 businesses and non-governmental organizations.
The group is trying to protect the president's $58.5 billion fiscal 2011 budget request as it winds its way through the legislative process. That's the biggest request ever for foreign operations and international assistance, but in this time of fiscal peril, lawmakers are expected to try to use that part of the budget request to fund other priorities.
Among the letter's signatories is retired Gen. Michael Hagee, who was commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 to 2006, and retired Adm. James Loy, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard from 1998 to 2002. Hagee and Loy sat down Tuesday morning to explain their activism on behalf of the diplomatic and development community to The Cable.
Hagee said the letter is remarkable because it represents the opinions of "50 retired three-and-four-star good-old boys," who have seen first-hand the military's encroachment upon traditional development issues, which was unavoidable but now needs to be addressed.
"But you can't get the capability and the capacity unless you get the resources," Hagee explained.
Loy said the military officials represent a broader swath of senior officers that agree with Gates's pledge to rebalance the tools of American statecraft because using the military to do development is just not the right way to do business.
"Our collective experience from lots of time in uniform and in very significant positions around the world in military jobs have convinced us that the notion of American influence has to be dealt with in multiple ways," he said.
We're hearing that Congress is planning to take up the fiscal 2011 State Department and foreign operations budget bill in May.
Hey, wasn't the State Department's preliminary report on its comprehensive strategic review supposed to come out this week? Well, looks like it's going to be another couple of weeks, at least, the official leading the review at the State Department told some people Thursday.
Anne Marie Slaughter, policy-planning chief at State and executive director of the review, know as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), emailed some interested parties to give them a QDDR update. That email found its way to The Cable (Sorry, Anne Marie!). Here's an excerpt:
I wanted to update you on the release of the Interim Report. We had a very good DC [deputies' committee meeting] on the report on Tuesday and are now in the process of getting comments from all the agencies represented at the DC and reaching out to other agencies. This is the normal process for quadrennial reviews; we are also benefiting from inter-agency reaction. We are also continuing to work as closely as possible with the PSD-7 process.
We are expecting to be able to release the report in early April. We will be doing pre-briefs on the Hill before any public release. After release we will be doing lots of outreach with all interested stakeholders. The Interim Report itself invites reactions and input as we move forward with the process.
So what does it all mean? Well, in Washington a delayed report is about par for the course, although this QDDR process does seem to be getting dragged out further and further. The target date of full release in September may be optimistic considering the interim report has taken so long.
There could be some other consequences as well. The PSD-7 process, an NSC review that overlaps State's review, is said to be waiting on the QDDR. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants to get her ideas out there first, we're hearing, and has convinced the NSC to hold off releasing anything until State makes its play.
The same dynamic surrounds the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform bill, which could clash with a lot of what we're hearing the QDDR will say about the role and stature of USAID. The two senators are also holding off until State releases some QDDR details and conclusions.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman also has a bill calling for a new overall strategy for foreign assistance. He spoke about it Thursday at the Center for American Progress.
"U.S. foreign assistance laws and the system that implements them are significantly outdated and poorly suited to meeting the challenges of the 21st century," he said. "Over time, the agency created to execute and distribute our foreign assistance and alleviate the worst manifestations of poverty, USAID, has lost its vast cadre of experts and its ability to serve as a leading center of expertise and innovation."
While the Sudanese government was busy striking a peace deal with the Darfuri people of western Sudan, back in Washington, Obama's point man on the issue was holding a tense meeting with members of the Darfuri diaspora that has since touched off a fierce controversy.
A coalition of Sudan groups has been complaining that inside the Jan. 26 meeting, which was held off the record at the United States Institute of Peace, Special Envoy Scott Gration -- who outraged Darfur campaigners last September when he said the Khartoum regime was more likely to respond to incentives than threats -- made several statements that veered far from the Obama administration's official policy. Others deny that account.
While the exact content of his remarks are in dispute, "clearly the meeting between Gration and the Darfuris was a disaster," according to one Washington-based advocacy leader, who was not in the meeting but communicated with several attendees.
"Every time Gration speaks, he seems to churn up a whole damage-control exercise," the advocacy leader said.
An open letter (pdf) sent to President Obama in mid-February by 35 mostly smaller Sudan-related groups alleges that, inside the Jan. 26 meeting, Gration said the Sudanese government didn't intentionally kill civilians in Darfur and that the U.S. government is planning to shift some $2 billion in funding from that region to South Sudan. The letter calls for Gration's removal as Sudan envoy.
But according to multiple sources, those groups are twisting Gration's words to make them seem more out of step than they actually were. The Cable spoke with several of the participants in the meeting, all of whom asked for anonymity because they had agreed to keep Gration's remarks off the record. The consensus was that the letter to Obama mischaracterized much of what the special envoy actually said.
It may be impossible to determine exactly what Gration did say, since no transcript exists and there were language and communications difficulties to boot. Only four of the 35 groups in the letter actually had a representative in the meeting, the Washington-based advocacy leader pointed out. Gration's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Several attendees acknowledged there was palpable frustration at the end of the meeting, however, due to a perception that Gration chose mostly to explain his own thinking rather than have a genuine exchange of views.
The differing accounts of the meeting highlight a growing divide among Sudan groups over how to deal with Gration. One faction mostly outside Washington wants to force his ouster, whereas another faction, mostly consisting of larger institutions inside the Beltway, assumes that he's not likely to be thrown overboard any time soon and worries that his sacking would only create a vacuum at a critical time in U.S. diplomacy.
These larger groups hope that before 2011, when the autonomous South Sudan region is due to hold a referendum on whether to secede altogether, the White House will assign ownership of this issue to senior officials in the State Department and the National Security Council, wresting some control away from Gration.
Advocacy leaders worry what might happen if the fragile truce in Sudan falls apart, the South votes for independence, and the U.S. is forced to take sides. They see Gration's reaction to the latest agreement as an indication he is too inclined to give Khartoum the benefit of the doubt.
"We have had agreements in the past; most have failed," Gration said last week in Doha, the Qatari capital. "I think this is different."
Last week, however, U.N. officials accused the government of Sudan of increasing its attacks on Darfur civilians, despite the new truce.
Entering its sixth year, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is entering a new phase of its maturation, transitioning off its first set of major projects while adjusting to life under the Obama administration.
But big questions linger on the horizon for the MCC, such as whether its mission can be sustained with smaller budgets in a tight fiscal environment and whether the agency will maintain its independence from the rest of the government as the State Department and the White House reorganize the U.S. development community.
Having already obligated $7.5 billion since its establishment in 2004, the MCC is proud to tout its record of accomplishment in the 20 countries it's now involved in, and the agency is working with 18 more potential national partners. Critics say the MCC focuses too heavily on countries that already have a reasonable amount of development, but the agency argues that its approach, which is country-focused and relatively hands off, is the best way to get to sustainable results over the long term.
"I came to the U.S. when I was 17 and I understand poverty first hand. I've seen it, I've seen the dehumanizing nature of poverty, sadly, it creates instability," the MCC's CEO Daniel Yohannes, the highest ranking Ethiopian born official in the Obama administration told The Cable. "I also understand that pouring a lot of aid money is not going to change the situation. You have to have governments that are really committed for transparency, governments that are accountable for their citizens."
Yohannes, who just got back from Ghana and Cape Verde, said MCC's approach is the right one. He also said that one of his main jobs is to find partners to help fund MCC programs, considering the difficult economic and fiscal environment.
In the past, the Bush administration requested around $3 billion each year for MCC and Congress has perennially slashed that request in favor of other priorities. But in its newly released fiscal 2011 budget request, the Obama administration asked for only $1.28 billion.
"This means we can only work with three, maybe four different countries within a given year," said Yohannes. "Because of the very precious resources that we have we have to find other partners -- whether these be PEPFAR or USAID or others. In addition, I'm looking for partners like other nonprofits or philanthropic organizations with Bill Gates and others ... So I'm trying to leverage every penny that we have."
Still, the MCC plans to take on new countries. This year the agency is looking at inking pacts with Jordan, Philippines, and Malawi. Zambia and Indonesia are under consideration for next year. Each of those projects carries a price tag of anywhere from $200 million to $450 million.
Other countries are nearing the end of their initial five-year compacts with the MCC; some will get new deals, some will not. Madagascar will not get new MCC funding because of election irregularities and other corruption, but Honduras and Nicaragua are being considered for a new deal.
"The second compact is not automatic," Yohannes said.
Meanwhile, over at the State Department and the White House, two key policy reviews are ongoing that could change the relationship between the MCC and the U.S. government. State Department leaders talk about "integrating" and also "elevating" development alongside the diplomacy mission as they craft their Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which makes some observers worry that Foggy Bottom is planning to assert new control over development organizations.
Yohannes, who is involved in the QDDR, wouldn't forecast its conclusions but said the MCC's autonomy is not his main concern.
"It's not so much about independence -- it's about what makes sense, what's the best approach in terms of development for our country. That's the real issue," he said. "We'll just wait and see what happens in the end."
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is getting ready to announce a new deputy vice president for policy, Jim Greene. But a huge proportion of senior appointed positions at the agency remain vacant, held up by the Obama administration's famously onerous vetting process.
Greene, who served for 17 years as an advisor to then Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joseph Biden, will work under Vice President for Policy and International Relations Sheila Herrling, formerly with the Center for Global Development. Greene's long experience on Capitol Hill will be a huge asset to the MCC as its $1.28 billion budget request makes its way through the legislative process.
"Jim brings a wealth of policy and political experience to his position on the management team at MCC," Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yohannes will say in a soon-to-be-released statement.
But MCC's position for vice president for congressional and public affairs is still vacant, as are four other vice president positions at the agency. In fact, Herrling is the only VP in place; the rest of the departments are run by acting VPs. Vacant slots include the vice president for the Office of General Counsel, the vice president for administration, and the chief of staff.
An MCC official told The Cable on background that the White House vetting process was the primary reason for the vacancies. It just takes so long to get choices through the system and receive approval on the other side, the official said.
Two more senior MCC appointments could be coming soon, but "the way things are going, who knows," the official said.
In the Senate, Greene handled legislation on international financial institutions, bilateral investment treaties, tax treaties, development assistance, and international energy and environmental issues including climate change.
Previously, Greene has taught at both Texas A&M University and the University of Houston.
It will be an uphill climb for lawmakers defending the Obama administration's $52.8 billion request for the State Department and USAID this year, according the House's top foreign affairs appropriator.
"We're going to be a strong an advocate as we can be, but with 10 percent unemployment, urgent needs at home, a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and focus on creating jobs, there is no doubt that these factors make it a difficult political environment for expanding our foreign assistance and development budgets," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, told The Cable in an exclusive interview.
She applauded the administration for proposing "robust increases" in the operating budgets for State and USAID, which include 600 and 200 new jobs, respectively. But she also noted that much of the increase comes from supplemental funding in light of the increased civilian role in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
While trying to accommodate the administration's budget request, Lowey's subcommittee will also be looking to make some changes to fit Congress's priorities.
"I intend to ensure that education remains a pillar of our development assistance," she said. "I am currently in the process of evaluating the whole budget, looking at every account and looking for areas where we can get those dollars ... It won't be an increase in the topline."
As for Haiti, House appropriators are committed to making sure emergency funding gets where it's needed, but when it comes to longer-term development and reconstruction assistance, that's going to have to be balanced against other needs.
"There are so many places in the world that need our assistance and you're always making judgments depending upon where you can do the least harm if you're taking funding from other accounts," Lowey said. "This is why I'm saying that the future and reconstruction money has to be evaluated in the context of the other tremendous needs around the world."
The State Department is working with OMB to figure out the intermediate need for Haiti now.
Lowey praised the movement of $1.2 billion for the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund from the Pentagon's coffers to State, and said she had been assured that Foggy Bottom could handle the new responsibility. "I think it should be evaluated and funded in the overall context of our foreign policy," she said.
She also commended the White House for moving $100 million in development funding to the State Department, what used to be known as the "1207" account but will now be called the "Complex Crises Fund." Sure, the State Department didn't get the "1206" foreign military assistance funding this year, but "I think we have enough to deal with," Lowey said.
The global health and humanitarian aid communities are pleased but not thrilled by the Obama administration's new budget request, which saw modest although lower-than-expected increases in a number of development accounts.
According to calculations by the U.S. Global Leadership Council, an umbrella NGO for the aid community, the overall international affairs budget will see an entire increase of 2.8 percent over fiscal 2010 in the fiscal 2011 budget request, including supplemental funding. And that's if Congress fulfills the request as is, which is by no means a certainty.
Overall operating accounts for USAID and topline funding for major programs like the Global Health initiative are set to rise significantly in the budget request. But the request signals a shift in priority within the international affairs budget away from longer-term programs and those that have gotten increases in recent years toward smaller, more focused accounts that could show short-term results.
"We are looking forward to Congress accepting this, supporting it in a bipartisan manner as we have seen throughout the last decade," said USGLC's executive director Liz Schrayer. "Particularly when at least 250 members of Congress sent a letter to the president last month calling for a robust international affairs budget."
The budget keeps Obama on track to double U.S. foreign assistance by 2015, said Larry Nowels, a USGLC consultant who worked previously for the Congressional Research Service. The baseline for that promise was a foreign assistance budget of $26 billion and this year's request falls short at about $41 billion. But even that number is somewhat misleading because a lot of the increase is earmarked just for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"If you look at the 2011 request, it's more than what we anticipated and more than what Obama campaigned on for Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said. "What will be really challenging is getting the rest of the money.... The question is on getting Congress to appropriate the funds."
Larger operating budgets for both State and USAID are a positive step toward another administration pledge, to eventually increase the number of Foreign Service officers by 25 percent. But Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew admitted yesterday that the timing on this goal has been stretched out in the new budget release.
"We have had to extend the period, but we haven't changed the goal," Lew said Monday. "We need to grow. And I think the budget gives us the ability to continue to grow. And the pace of hiring, you know, will only slow down slightly. It will not be a dramatic change."
The request for the Global Health Initiative, a worldwide program targeting major disease epidemics, was viewed as a mixed picture. The overall account was increased from $7.8 billion to $8.5 billion requested, which is substantial. But within the subaccounts there were winners and losers.
"This budget will get you to about 38 percent of the $63 billion proposal," said Nowels, referring to the overall pledge for GHI funding. "So there is a lot of work ahead and a lot of assumptions at stake that in the next three years you can come up with the additional resources."
Maternal and child health funding is going from $550 million to $900 million, with a lot of the new funds focused on nutrition. Neglected tropical diseases accounts could go from $65 to $155 million, reflecting the priority of that issue in the minds of the administration.
Requests in other areas were more modest. Family planning accounts could receive a $65 million increase, which isn't much, and funding for HIV/AIDs would rise only 2.5 percent in the budget request, much less than previous years' increases.
The $1 billion request for the Global Fund, an international financing institution also focused on major disease epidemics, is actually less than the $1.05 billion Congress gave for that account in fiscal 2010 money.
Nevertheless, the $600 million or 25 percent increase in USAID's part of the GHI and the $460 million or 18 percent increase in what's known as the "development assistance" account show a huge commitment to expanding the development mission, said Sam Worthington, president and CEO of Interaction, a coalition of more than 150 aid organizations. But the modest 2 percent increase in humanitarian assistance is less encouraging.
Despite the rising need for refugee assistance and disaster relief, as evidenced by the Haiti crisis, funding for refugees was cut by 5 percent and USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives was cut by 13 percent. The request for contributions for international organizations would mean an 11 percent decrease or $43 million cut if Congress goes along.
"Interestingly, an administration committed to multilateral work may be looking to work more through the World Bank or other places," Worthington said.
But overall, the increases requests for operating expenses and staffing at both State and USAID are "clearly a signal of intent for building institutional capacity," he added. "They're saying in their request that they want to make a serious investment."
"For the programs that are accustomed to very steep increases, this is the slowing of the growth rate but it's still a growing trajectory," said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "It's not going to make everyone happy, but it's a pretty robust proposal."
"The one message to take away from this is stay tuned."
The State Department was awarded a big slice of the foreign military assistance pie in the President's new fiscal 2011 budget request, $1.2 billion for Pakistani military training that was previously in the hands of the Pentagon.
The Cable has reported extensively on the turf wars between State and Defense over authorities for a range of foreign assistance funding, money that should logically go through State but has been controlled by the Pentagon for a variety of reasons. The movement of the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Funding from DOD to State represents a test of the State Department's ability to manage these types of new, large scale foreign military assistance programs.
Some senior lawmakers have wanted the PCCF money to be given to State for a while. Appropriators wanted to make the change in the fiscal 2009 supplemental bill, but relented after Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both testified that State wasn't ready to take on the mission at that time.
"I know there's been some concern here on the Hill about whether this money ought to be in the State Department or it ought to be in the Defense Department," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee last April, "Part of the problem is authorities and capacity in the State Department to be able to apply this money with the agility Secretary Clinton was talking about."
PCCF received $400 million in the first tranche of fiscal 2009 war funding. House Foreign Affairs chairman Howard Berman had directed in his bill that the money should go to State but he eventually relented after the administration made it clear that this wasn't wise.
This money is separate from the Kerry-Lugar Pakistan aid bill, which authorized $1.5 billion in varied assistance to Pakistan over 5 years.
As we reported earlier, the State Department did not receive the so-called "1206" money, which is also called "Global Train and Equip," but sources said that if State does well with the PCCF fund, 1206 will be back on the table for fiscal 2012.
As for the "1207" funds, that did transfer over to State. That $100 million will now be called the Complex Crises Fund, which is meant "to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen crises that address reconstruction, security, or stabilization needs."
As officials at the State Department and USAID continue to wrangle over what to do with America's top development agency, lawmakers are pushing their own ideas for reform. Soon, the State Department could have its first authorization bill since 2002, a policy blueprint that could include significant input from Capitol Hill.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, introduced a State Department policy bill for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 today. The introduction comes just days before the release of the administration's fiscal 2011 State Department budget request and in the middle of important foreign operations policy reviews both at State and in the White House.
"This is the first time in eight years that the Foreign Relations Committee will pass a State Department authorization bill, and we do so at a critical moment," Kerry said in a statement. "This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them."
The question remains whether or not this authorization bill will become the vehicle for the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform bill that their committee marked up in November. That legislation has very different ideas of how to structure USAID than what's expected to come out of the two main reviews related to U.S. development policy, State's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the NSC's Presidential Study Directive on Global Development.
Lugar gave a major speech on the Senate's ideas about foreign aid reform at last night's gala event hosted by the Society for International Development, where he emphasized the Senate's view that development and diplomacy should be distinct and separate.
"Differences of opinion exist with regard to who should be performing development functions and how these activities should be integrated into our broader foreign policy efforts. We have not reached a consensus within our government on who should be doing what, where, when and why," Lugar said.
"As we debate these issues, we should keep in mind that diplomacy and development are two distinct disciplines. Although diplomacy and development often can be mutually reinforcing, at their core, they have different priorities, resource requirements, and time horizons."
Lugar's message was basically directed at State Department officials who have been talking about the "integration" of development and diplomacy, an idea that the development community is resisting. Lugar also said USAID must have control over its own budget and policy formations, both functions that were stripped from the agency during the Bush administration.
State's Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter tried to allay the fears in the development community about the upcoming QDDR in remarks at an event Thursday hosted by the U.N. Development Programme.
"Integrating is not the bad word that many people fear it is. It doesn't at all mean collapsing development and diplomacy into one another or subsuming one to the other," she said.
But she would not say whether she supported USAID having the authority to made budget or policy decisions on its own.
Steve Radelet has begun his new job as senior advisor on development in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Radelet announced his move, which had been reported but not confirmed, in an email to staffers at the Center for Global Development, where he worked until Friday.
The development community has mixed feelings about the appointment. On one level, Radelet is seen a strong advocate for development, a straight shooter who's not afraid to ruffle feathers in his advocacy for a strong and independent aid mission. On the other hand, some see Radelet's placement inside Clinton's personal office as yet another sign that she is consolidating power over development at State, rather than at USAID.
Here's his parting email, below the jump:
The entire international affairs budget will be exempted from the spending freeze that President Obama will announce in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night.
When the news broke about the pending freeze, people in the aid community were worried that programs such as global health or food security initiatives might fall under the "non-security discretionary funding" designation that makes programs subject to the freeze. But those programs are safe from this particular threat.
"The entire 150 account will be exempted," from the three- year freeze, Rob Nabors, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget said on a conference call Tuesday.
The “150 account” refers to the international affairs budget request, which will be the basis for the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This includes spending on global economic, diplomatic and humanitarian programs by the State Department, USAID, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others.
Of course, foreign-aid programs could be cut anyway; there's no guarantee. Or they could receive only modest increases due to the shift of Iraq and Afghanistan obligations into the foreign ops accounts. Most insiders expect that when the budget request comes out on Monday, the foreign affairs topline will look like a big increase, but non-war related accounts will get little new money.
On the larger picture, the freeze doesn't mean all non-exempted departments will feel the pain. "Not every agency that is subject to the freeze is being frozen," Nabors said. He also brushed off the reservations of some lawmakers, who will surely want to test the boundaries of the freeze.
"I understand the appropriators' initial reaction," said Nabors. "But there's a lot of time before these bills start moving."
On the ninth floor of the Ronald Reagan building in downtown Washington, the lights are on 24 hours a day in the room where the massive U.S. government response effort to the Haiti crisis is being coordinated.
The first conference call is at 7:30 each morning, after which a series of issue teams that make up the interagency task force on Haiti get their assignments for the day. They regroup around 5 p.m. to prepare for another call in the early evening. But the desks are manned throughout the night.
"People have been working flat out 24/7. Some folks have been up until 5 a.m.," Susan Reichle, the USAID official who heads the coordination effort, told The Cable.
Reichle is not in charge of the entire relief effort -- her boss, USAID chief Rajiv Shah is -- but her shop is the clearinghouse through which the information is channeled up and down the chain within the U.S. government.
"It's a way for all that information at Port-au-Prince to come up to the interagency and a way for us to get messages back to Port-au-Prince from here," she said. "We deconflict issues and problems all day."
The interagency team is led by USAID's Office for Disaster Assistance, but has representation from an alphabet soup of government entities, including DHS, FEMA, the Coast Guard, DOD, the Joints Chiefs, OSD, OCHA, HHS, the State Department, U.S. Southern Command, and U.S. Transportation Command.
Shah isn't in the room. He's busy interfacing with top officials and lawmakers. Shah met with national security advisor Jim Jones yesterday, speaks with people like State Department counselor Cheryl Mills and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen regularly, and went to Capitol Hill today to brief House appropriators.
But Shah "is the decision maker," Reichle emphasized.
The interagency team coordinated by USAID doesn't have complete control over every aspect of the mission. For example, Southcom still makes the decisions about how to vet the 1,400 daily requests for planes to land at the lone Haiti airport. There are only about 140 landing spots to offer, and only about 50 percent of those go to humanitarian missions. The rest are divided between foreign government flights and military missions.
And the coordination mission has been a mix of successes and failures. In one example, a team of experts from Health and Human Services sat idle for days in Port-au-Prince because there were no vehicles or security personnel to move them and they had no direction as to what to do.
"Every team has had to go through some struggles to get into countries and then when they are in the country to do their jobs," Reichle acknowledged.
In the long term, it's not clear that USAID will remain in charge. Although President Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti relief, a long-term budget is being put together at State's Bureau of Foreign Assistance, the "F" Bureau, led by Rob Goldberg.
In the past, USAID administrators have supervised the F Bureau, but under the current arrangement its money (as well as USAID's) is controlled by Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, rather than Shah.
For now, the search-and-rescue mission continues, but the interagency team is beginning to shift some of its focus to longer-term needs like shelter, food, water, and health. Eventually, Reichle said, the center of gravity will move back to the regular parts of USAID.
"It always transitions over to the regional bureau. They're the ones with the lead over the long term," she said.
The administration completed a Haiti policy review recently and the crux of the review will still be implemented. The goal is to build Haiti better than it was before the quake.
The goal, Reichle said, is "decreased dependency over the long term on foreign assistance," and to "build a foundation for a more stable, resilient, and market orientated Haiti."
The Pentagon has won a major internal battle over control of foreign assistance funding, delaying the Obama administration's pledge to demilitarize foreign policy, multiple sources tell The Cable.
DOD and State have been fighting vigorously over who would be in charge of large swaths of the foreign assistance budget, billions of dollars in total that are used to aid and work with governments all over the world. Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have emphasized the need to rebalance national security spending away from the military and toward the diplomatic core, but behind the scenes their offices have struggled to determine where the lines should be drawn.
"For too long we have focused more heavily on one of the so-called three Ds - namely defense - and less on the other two, diplomacy and development... And it has been my goal since becoming the 67th Secretary of State to do all that I could to make sure that diplomacy and development were elevated alongside defense.," Clinton told the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.
One big chunk of funding at issue is in foreign security assistance, known as the "1206" account, which could total about $500 million next year. This is money used to do things like military training and joint operations with countries outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Indonesia and Somalia.
Since the military doesn't have the lead in those countries, the funding should flow through State, right? Well, not in 2011. The president's budget will keep those funds in the Pentagon's purse in its Feb. 1 budget release, following a pitched internal battle in which the State Department eventually conceded.
"That literally is the result of vigorous arm wrestling within the administration," one source familiar with the discussions said. The battle had been waged primarily between the shops of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro, but finally Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew got involved.
"Eventually State backed off," the source said. "They're not sure they have the capacity to actually run the 1206 programs."
The capacity issue has hampered State's ability to take over many of the programs it professes to want to own. In a related case, top senators wanted to give State control over another fund, called the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund, but couldn't do so last year because State wasn't prepared to take on the mission.
"My hunch is there are some real procedural problems that need to be worked out before the shift can take place," Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, told The Cable. "There's probably an effort being made to build their capacity so that they are better positioned the next time this comes around," he said, referring to the State Department.
Insiders working on the issue also suggested that State didn't match up bureaucratically inside the fight. The Pentagon just has so many more people and resources to bring to bear, and besides, the State Department's strategy review, the QDDR, isn't complete.
Meanwhile, the window for Foggy Bottom to get its act together may be closing. Despite the internal wrangling, this Pentagon is more willing to give away authorities than others have been or might be.
"The State Department has an unusually strong advocate in Secretary Gates in that regard," Levin noted.
In fact, Gates floated a memo last month proposing that State and DOD share about $2 billion worth of foreign assistance money and administer the accounts jointly. But Hill staffers, who would be the ones appropriating the money, said there was no follow-through. Many saw the memo as a decoy and not really operative in any sense.
Besides the 1206 funds, there are still large accounts in the foreign assistance realm that could be adjusted when the budget request comes out in February. For example, State could be awarded the approximately $1 billion in the Iraqi Security Forces Fund, considering the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will be taking over large parts of the training mission in Iraq soon.
In one other account focused on development, called the 1207 account, State is expected to be given that $100 million worth of budget authority, which had been housed at DOD. But since the 1207 money was already being spent by State after being channeled through the DOD accounts, that's not really such a big change after all.
Overall, State is expected to receive a hefty increase in its top-line budget request for fiscal 2011, but much of that money will be for Iraq and Afghanistan, allowing little growth in the rest of the State-USAID accounts.
The slow pace of rebalancing national security spending and the lack of a comprehensive strategy for guiding that process is the subject of a new book by former OMB national security funding chief Gordon Adams, entitled Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home.
"The tool kit is out of whack," Adams told The Cable. "There's been a major move over the last 10 years to expand the Defense Department's agenda, which has been creeping into the foreign-policy agenda in new and expensive ways."
Officials from the White House's Office of Management and Budget declined to comment about the budget details ahead of the release.
Yesterday, The Cable brought you details of the coming fight between the administration and Congress over the future of USAID and the development mission. Today, development professionals are telling The Cable privately they see increasing signs that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is moving to consolidate development power and decision-making in her own shop, not at USAID.
Clinton has often remarked about the need to "elevate" the development mission, which may well be another way of saying it needs to "integrate" into the State Department. But some key lawmakers and development community representatives would rather have USAID more independent of State in order to protect their interests, which don't always line up with the diplomatic missions in Foggy Bottom.
Clinton has acknowledged the fears in the development community that the development mission will fall victim to diplomacy goals if State has too much control over USAID, but several influential sources told The Cable they see signs in the secretary's recent actions that she is all about establishing State's control over USAID toward just that result. "She's saying one thing but everyone else is seeing signs that things are moving the other way," said one development professional. "Every single message that's being telegraphed about development from Clinton's shop is ‘this is our baby to deal with.'"
As the debate takes shape, newly installed USAID administrator Rajiv Shah will play a key role. Taking over just days before the Haiti earthquake, he was prominently featured as the government's point man on the crisis, speaking on all the news shows the first day, but Clinton took over when she got back to Washington on the second day. At the Haiti press conferences, he spoke after State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills (who also has a history with the Haiti issue). And at a press event last week on agriculture aid to Afghanistan, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack took the lead.
Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew still controls the USAID budget and multiple sources say he will retain that control when State's Quadrennial Defense and Diplomacy Review comes out. Meanwhile, State Department Policy Planning Chief Anne-Marie Slaughter continues to be the public face of the State Department when talking about development in policy circles. Slaughter will give another talk on development Jan. 28 to the UN Development Program. One close observer called Slaughter "the nation's chief development strategist," in Clinton's view, with Shah relegated to the role of "the Secretary's chief development staffer."
Clinton is further beefing up her development credentials by bringing in a new senior advisor for such matters. Her impending appointment, first reported by Politico, of Steve Radelet, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, to a new position in the Secretary's office to advise on all things development and coordinate efforts across the community, is being taken as a major signal by development watchers. "It would have been great to have Steve over at USAID to give some heft to that agency, but that's not where the policy center of gravity seems to be forming," one development source said.
It's hard not to notice that Shah is relatively young and inexperienced when it comes to bureaucratic battles and that he owes his appointment to Clinton, who said at Shah's swearing-in that she had called Vilsack (whom Shah was then working for) to ask permission to appoint him to USAID. "She thinks it's her role to appoint him, isn't that the president's job?" another development source remarked.
The irony is that Clinton, while First Lady, was a key defender of the independence of USAID, and nobody doubts her heartfelt commitment to the issue. But if she gets her way and control over development is cemented in the Secretary's office, what happens when the next administration comes along with a different view?
"She could be setting up a situation where it's so personality driven and based on what her priority is, that the next Secretary could just knock it down," another development community professional worried.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.