Reuters Examines Foreign Aid’s Prospects In New Congress; Foreign Policy Looks At Clinton’s State Dept. Staff Memo

Reuters examines how the efforts of “budget-minded lawmakers [in the new U.S. Congress who will] seek to curb costs without undercutting military operations” could impact U.S.-backed aid programs, including those in Afghanistan. “‘[Y]ou’ll see a Republican party focused on funding the military effort while trying to cut back on civilian assistance,’ said one Democratic congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity,” according to Reuters. “A senior Republican aide said many lawmakers in the new Congress would be reluctant to fund State Department or aid programs, especially those in conflict zones, in part because they believed State had poorly managed its activities in Iraq.”

Additionally, Reuters writes, “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican [from Florida] who will chair the new House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said she will seek to cut ‘fat’ across State Department and foreign aid spending.” Although “such cuts would impair Washington’s ability to buy some stability in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with programs to build roads, train government officials and more during a pivotal period. … Both parties are concerned about the effectiveness of aid efforts that have been marred by reports of corruption even as Washington in 2010 rolled out its ‘civilian surge’ that tripled the number of diplomats and aid workers” in Afghanistan, according to the news service.

The article details how development programs in Afghanistan figure into President Barack Obama’s “strategy in Afghanistan, where officials seek to deter locals from supporting the Taliban by providing basic services and tackling poverty, just as vital as military operations,” and includes comments by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Ronald Neumann, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 (Ryan, 1/5).

In related news, Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog examines a memo sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to her staff on Tuesday that reflected on the role the State Department played in diplomacy and development in 2010, including the agency’s role in advancing global health abroad.

In 2010, “we continued to advance global health around the world by bringing life-saving prevention, treatment, and care to more people in more places; to fight poverty, hunger, and disease; and to safeguard the rights and the roles of girls and women everywhere,” Clinton said in the memo, according to the blog. The Secretary referenced the U.S.’ involvement in relief operations in Haiti and Pakistan, as well as the progress the U.S. made in strengthening its bilateral and multilateral relationships with countries around the world.

“In 2010, we faced challenges on almost every front, and our diplomacy and development efforts were put to the test,” Clinton wrote in the memo. “On all of these issues and more, we’ve made good progress. But every step forward opens up new opportunities and reveals fresh challenges. The advances we made in 2010 leave us with a full agenda for 2011,” she added.

“We will continue to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral ties, and remain focused on our many critical priorities around the world, from rebalancing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing democracy and human rights,” Clinton noted. “We will also continue to improve the way we work – with a particular focus on implementing the reforms in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR),” she said (Rogin, 1/4).

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