The NSC is getting a new Pakistan director following the departure of Shamila Chaudhary, who left this last week after over a decade in government to join the private sector. She will be replaced by career Foreign Service officer Dawn Schrepel, who most recently worked for former Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg as his special assistant on South and Central Asia issues.
Chaudhary gave up one job to take two new ones, starting today as an analyst for the Eurasia Group as well as senior South Asia Fellow at the New America Foundation. She worked for years as a self-described backbencher at the State Department, before catching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's attention after the two debated the wisdom of engaging non-governmental centers of power in Pakistan. Soon afterwards, Clinton promoted her to State Department's policy planning staff. She had joined the NSC in April 2010.
"We are thrilled that Shamila is joining our South Asia team at New America," New America President Steve Coll said in a release. "She has worked all of the hard issues on the inside of government and yet retains a fresh, creative, energized and inter-disciplinary perspective. "
"I am delighted to welcome Shamila to the firm," said Eurasia Group Head of Research David Gordon in another release. "Her analytical strength and depth of regional expertise will be a true asset to our Asia coverage."
By choosing Schrepel as Chaudhary's replacement, the NSC can maintain its links to the State Department on Pakistan issues, especially with the office of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman. Chaudhary was a key interlocutor between the NSC and SRAP.
Grossman will be in Pakistan Tuesday for a meeting with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts.
Schrepel has a solid reputation and, although she is not seen as a Pakistan expert per se, she was posted in Karachi for a year. She reports to Jeff Eggers, the active duty Navy SEAL who was recently was named senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan following the retirement of Bush administration holdover John Tien.
Eggers now leads a team of six directors at the NSC -- three on Pakistan, three on Afghanistan. On Pakistan, there's Schrepel, Phil Reiner from OSD Policy, and Tamanna Salikuddin. The Afghanistan directors are Abigail Friedman, Stan Byers, and Jeff Hayes.
All of them still report up to Gen. Doug Lute, the deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, who is still in place despite months of reports that he was on the way out. The Washington Post's Al Kamen reported last week that Lute told his staff he is staying "indefinitely." We're told that the White House has had trouble finding a suitable replacement for Lute, who still represents a valuable link to the military. Meanwhile, Lute seems content to keep up with the daily grind of Af-Pak policy despite the fact that he has never been a core member of the Obama clique.
Meanwhile, there's still no permanent replacement for departed India Senior Director Anish Goel. His job is being done for the time being by Acting Senior Director Michael Newbill, who accompanied Clinton on her recent trip to India. Newbill reports to Special Advisor Dennis Ross, and India remains on an entirely different bureaucratic branch from Af-Pak in the NSC, as it does at the State Department.
Rajiv Shah, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has a message for those in Congress who want to slash development and foreign-aid budgets: Cuts will undermine U.S. national security.
On the heels of a major speech on the coming reforms to America's premier development agency, Shah sat down for an exclusive interview with The Cable to explain his vision for making USAID more responsible and accountable, an effort he said will require increased short-term investment in order to realize long-term savings.
But if Congress follows through on a massive defunding of USAID as the 165-member Republican Study Group recommended yesterday, it would not only put USAID's reforms in jeopardy, but have real and drastic negative implications for American power and the ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Shah.
"That first and foremost puts our national security in real jeopardy because we are working hand and glove with our military to keep us safe," said Shah, referring to USAID missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Central America, and responding directly to congressional calls for cuts in foreign aid and development.
The RSC plan calls for $1.39 billion in annual savings from USAID. The USAID operating budget for fiscal 2010 was approximately $1.65 billion. The RSC spending plan summary was not clear if all the cuts would come from operations or from USAID administered programs.
"That would have massive negative implications for our fundamental security," said Shah. "And as people start to engage in a discussion of what that would mean for protecting our border, for preventing terrorist safe havens and keeping our country safe from extremists' ideology … and what that would mean for literally taking children that we feed and keep alive through medicines or food and leaving them to starve. I think those are the types of things people will back away from."
The interests between the development community and U.S. national security objectives don't always align, and this tension is at the core of the debate on how to reinvigorate USAID. Short-term foreign-policy objectives sometimes don't match long-term development needs, and U.S. foreign-policy priorities are not made with development foremost in mind.
But Shah's ambitious drive to reform USAID seems to embrace the idea that development investments can be justified due to their linkage with national security. He is preparing to unveil next month USAID's first ever policy on combating violent extremism and executing counterinsurgency. He also plans to focus USAID's efforts on hot spots like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, while transitioning away from other countries that are faring well and downgrading the agency's presence in places like Paris, Rome, and Tokyo.
Shah pointed out that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus have all come out in strong support of increasing USAID's capacity to do foreign aid.
"In the military they call us a high-value, low-density partner because we are of high value to the national security mission but there aren't enough of us and we don't have enough capability," he said. "This is actually a much, much, much more efficient investment than sending in our troops, not even counting the tremendous risk to American lives when we have to do that."
For those less concerned with matters of national security, Shah also framed his argument for development aid in terms of increased domestic economic and job opportunities: If we want to export more, we need to help develop new markets that are U.S.-friendly.
"If we are going to be competitive as a country and create jobs at home, we cannot ignore the billions of people who are currently very low income but will in fact form a major new middle-class market in the next two decades," he said.
One of the main criticisms of USAID both on Capitol Hill and elsewhere is that the agency has been reduced over the years to not much more than a contracting outfit, disbursing billions of dollars around the world to organizations that have mixed performance records. In Shah's view, if Congress wants USAID to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, it has to increase the agency's operating budget and allow the agency to monitor contracts in-house.
"It was the Bush administration that helped launch the effort to reinvest in USAID's capabilities and hiring and people, and the reason they did that is they recognized you save a lot more money by being better managers of contracts," Shah said. "We have a choice. We have a critical need to make the smart investments in our own operations … which over time will save hundreds of millions of dollars, as opposed to trying to save a little bit now by cutting our capacity to do oversight and monitoring."
Shah wouldn't comment on the latest and greatest USAID contracting scandal, where the agency suspended contractor AED from receiving any new contracts amid allegations of widespread fraud. But he did say that his office would be personally reviewing large sole-source contracts from now on, requiring independent and public evaluations, and that more corrective actions are in the works.
"I suspect you'll see more instances of effective, proactive oversight that in fact saves American taxpayers significant resources," he said.
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 Obama administration has accepted the resignation of Dr. Mark Dybul, President Bush's director of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), sources tell The Cable. "His office was packed up, he said goodybe to staff around 3:30, and seemed emotional," a department source said Thursday. "Eric Goosby is the rumored replacement."
Although Dybul had previously been reported to have been asked to stay on indefinitely, the Washington Blade reported Thursday that Obama "senior advisors were concerned about the negative reaction from some AIDS activists and reproductive rights groups to news that Dybul would be staying on. ... A number of AIDS and reproductive rights groups have urged Obama to replace Dybul with someone the groups see as more likely to change the Bush administration's insistence that at least some international AIDS relief funds be linked to abstinence-only programs."
A call to the White House was not returned. The Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator sent queries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond.
UPDATE: A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Dybul was asked to submit his resignation and is no longer serving in that role.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.