Monday, May 31, 2010

BBC News - China bans evidence from torture

BBC News - China bans evidence from torture

BBC News - Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship

BBC News - Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship

I do realize that it's more complex than this, but it's hard to wonder why Hamas/the Palestinians are so pissed when Israel blocks ships bringing in badly needed aid.

"The six-ship flotilla left international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday and was expected to arrive in Gaza later on Monday.

Israel has said it would stop the boats, calling the campaign a "provocation intended to delegitimise Israel".

An economic blockade was imposed by Israel after the Islamist movement Hamas took power in Gaza.

Israel says it allows about 15,000 tones of humanitarian aid into Gaza every week.

But the United Nations says this is less than a quarter of what is needed.

Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

BBC News - Brain gain: African migrants returning home

BBC News - Brain gain: African migrants returning home:
Very Very good news!

"Africa may still be suffering from a chronic brain drain but some of the continent's elite are turning their backs on the West and taking their talents back home according to film-maker Andy Jones."

BBC News - Malawi pardons jailed gay couple

BBC News - Malawi pardons jailed gay couple: "A gay couple jailed in Malawi after getting engaged have been pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika."

List of political families - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of political families - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Very interesting list.

BBC News - Nepal parliament deal ends political impasse

BBC News - Nepal parliament deal ends political impasse

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - Sister Margaret’s Choice -

Op-Ed Columnist - Sister Margaret’s Choice - "“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement."

This really does show how misogynistic the upper echelons of the Church can be. Clearly the bishop who made this statement is male (not that all men agree with his opinion, but I believe it takes someone who could never find himself in that situation to pass a judgement like this).

'If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament' -Florynce Kennedy

May 26, 2010

Sister Margaret’s Choice

We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.

But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly.

The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy. I hope that a public outcry can rectify this travesty.

Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.

Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.

Since the excommunication, Sister Margaret has left her post as vice president and is no longer listed as one of the hospital executives on its Web site. The hospital told me that she had resigned “at the bishop’s request” but is still working elsewhere at the hospital.

I heard about Sister Margaret from an acquaintance who is a doctor at the hospital. After what happened to Sister Margaret, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to his friends lamenting the excommunication of “a saintly nun”:

“She is a kind, soft-spoken, humble, caring, spiritual woman whose spot in Heaven was reserved years ago,” he said in the e-mail message. “The idea that she could be ex-communicated after decades of service to the Church and humanity literally makes me nauseated.”

“True Christians, like Sister Margaret, understand that real life is full of difficult moral decisions and pray that they make the right decision in the context of Christ’s teachings. Only a group of detached, pampered men in gilded robes on a balcony high above the rest of us could deny these dilemmas.”

A statement from the bishop’s office did not dispute that the mother’s life was in danger — although it did note that no doctor’s prediction is 100 percent certain. The implication is that the church would have preferred for the hospital to let nature take its course.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy is entitled to its views. But the episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch — and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.

Sister Margaret made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a lightning bolt from a bishop who spent 16 years living in Rome and who has devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than Sister Margaret. Compare their two biographies, and Sister Margaret’s looks much more like Jesus’s than the bishop’s does.

“Everyone I know considers Sister Margaret to be the moral conscience of the hospital,” Dr. John Garvie, chief of gastroenterology at St. Joseph’s Hospital, wrote in a letter to the editor to The Arizona Republic. “She works tirelessly and selflessly as the living example and champion of compassionate, appropriate care for the sick and dying.”

Dr. Garvie later told me in an e-mail message that “saintly” was the right word for Sister Margaret and added: “Sister was the ‘living embodiment of God’ in our building. She always made sure we understood that we’re here to help the less fortunate. We really have no one to take her place.”

I’ve written several times about the gulf between Roman Catholic leaders at the top and the nuns, priests and laity who often live the Sermon on the Mount at the grass roots. They represent the great soul of the church, which isn’t about vestments but selflessness.

When a hierarchy of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BBC News - How France maintains its grip on Africa

BBC News - How France maintains its grip on Africa

How France maintains its grip on Africa

By Stephen Smith
BBC Focus on Africa Magazine

This year, 50 years on from the independence of most former French colonies in Africa, relations between France and its erstwhile possessions south of the Sahara remain murkier and more confused than ever. Never mind.

In the summer, Paris plans to host a so-called "renovation summit" to revamp Franco-African relations. But many critics, both in France and in Africa, say the gathering will be more a sign of business-as-usual rather than something that will encourage reform.

Paradoxically, protests against Francafrique (the Franco-African shadow state which perpetuated French influence south of the Sahara after 1960) have been far more vocal in the wake of the massive French disengagement from the region after the end of the Cold War than during the three decades - les trente glorieuses - of French neo-colonialism from 1960-1989.

France has been reluctant to play the role of the gendarme of Africa

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of East-West geopolitical rivalry encouraged public debate about France's role in Africa.

Just how many first- and second-generation immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are living in France today remains an open question, as French law prohibits statistics based on racial criteria. However, it is estimated that up to 5% of the country's 65 million inhabitants originate from the region.

Many have acquired French citizenship and form, together with long-standing French nationals from the Antilles, what the national media refers to as "Black France".

But since racially tainted riots erupted in major French cities at the end of 2005, many French people of African descent - perhaps alienated from the powers-that-be in Paris - consciously define themselves as "hyphenated" citizens: Franco-Africans with divided national loyalties.

Renewed, balanced and transparent

On the eve of this year's Bastille Day, the heads of state of former French interests in Africa are due to gather around President Nicolas Sarkozy "to highlight and to bear out the evolution of Franco-African relations which are to remain privileged while being renewed, balanced and transparent".

Using less convoluted language than the official communique, the president explained in December that the purpose was "to turn the page of the debate on [French] colonisation and post-colonisation".

Exhibitions, round-table discussions, publications and academic conferences have been scheduled throughout this year.

The high point of the festivities is to be the 14 July parade on the Champs Elysees where French and African troops will march in lock-step saluting President Sarkozy and his guests of honour.

The military show is meant to be a reminder of Franco-African fraternity of arms, notably against Nazi occupation in World War II.

The African heads of state will also attend the traditional garden party at the Elysee Palace following the Bastille Day parade. The event's theme is "Diversity - the human reality which links the colonial past to present-day immigrant France," according to the Elysee communique, but this in particular is causing a few ructions.

The person appointed by Mr Sarkozy to run this year's events is Jacques Toubon whose previous political career is quite telling.

Not only is he a die-hard Gaullist - an ideology named after former President Charles de Gaulle who insisted on maintaining as much control as possible over France's African interests - but he is also a former minister of culture and, since 2005, has been at the helm of a new museum dedicated to the history of immigration in France.

The museum occupies a pavilion erected for the Colonial Exhibition in 1931, which marked the acme of French imperialism.

As a result, criticism has been voiced against the mixed messages being sent by the government on the subject.


On the one hand there seems to be a direct line drawn between la plus grande France - the "Greater France" of colonial times - and immigration.

But, on the other hand, since Mr Sarkozy's election in spring 2007, the French government has intensified efforts to conclude bilateral treaties with states south of the Sahara aiming at a "joint management" of migratory movements.

Yet while small and relatively privileged countries like Gabon have signed such agreements, more important reservoirs of sub-Saharan immigration, namely Mali, have so far refused to "co-police" migration.

Mr Sarkozy's government has been more successful in renegotiating the defence treaties which were signed with all former colonies in 1960 (except for Sekou Toure's Guinea which cut the umbilical cord with Paris in 1958, achieving independence two years earlier than all the other former French colonies).

The revised treaties clarify mutual obligations and, in particular, no longer contain "secret clauses" for French military intervention in case of internal conflict.

Making discretionary use of its right to intervene, France has staged over 40 military operations to save, or sometimes topple, African regimes since 1960, mostly during the Cold War.

But since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and especially after the debacle in Rwanda in 1994, France has been reluctant to play the role of the gendarme of Africa.

  • This article was originally published in
  • As a result, the number of French military advisers on the continent has been slashed from 925 in 1990 to 264 in 2008; in the same period the budget for military assistance was halved.

    There are still about 10,000 French soldiers deployed south of the Sahara, down from 15,000 in 1989. But half of them are serving on temporary missions, often under UN mandates.

    Also, in the past 20 years, Paris has closed three out of six permanent bases on the continent.

    France's foreign direct investment in Africa has also plummeted since the Berlin Wall crumbled. While the African share stood at just over 30% in 1989, it has been consistently below 5% since the turn of the century.

    Furthermore, the bulk of France's overseas capital investment has been shrewdly diversified beyond former colonial boundaries in favour of non-francophone countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Kenya and South Africa.

    Shady middlemen

    Yet, despite France's disengagement from its former colonies, political mores between Paris and the francophone capitals of the continent remained characterised by back-door arrangements and shady middlemen.

    As a presidential candidate, Mr Sarkozy committed himself to cleaning up les reseau: the informal Franco-African networks. "We must rid Franco-African relations of the networks of a bygone age," he declared in a speech in Benin in 2006.

    But since he took office, President Sarkozy has perpetuated France's time-honoured tradition of parallel diplomacy in Africa.

    One set of advisers presides in public over the official business with Africa, while high-ranking Elysee staff, in tandem with unofficial middlemen, is in charge of the lucrative and highly personalised politics that Mr Sarkozy denounced during his presidential campaign.

    The French media regularly expose the broken promises and the new lease on life given to Francafrique.

    The elite collusion of Francafrique has become an anachronism, at odds with the stark realities of shrinking French engagement - both government and private - with its former territories south of the Sahara.

    For example, Mauritania's General Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz continued to visit the Elysee Palace after the coup that brought him to power, despite being denounced in capitals across Europe.

    Hence, if they care at all, most French belittle the 2010 "renovation summit" as a political gimmick, actually not all that different from the so-called "independence of the flag" granted to the African colonies in 1960.

    Stephen Smith is a visiting professor at Duke University in the United States. His new book - Le Nouveau Monde Franco-Africain - was released in April.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Saundra Schimmelpfennig: Don't Choose a Charity Based on Administration Costs

    Saundra Schimmelpfennig: Don't Choose a Charity Based on Administration Costs

    Saundra Schimmelpfennig

    Posted: April 7, 2010 08:31 PM

    Don't Choose a Charity Based on Administration Costs

    While it seems logical that the less a charity spends on administration, the more donation dollars reach the people that need it the most, it is not as simple as that. In reality, the amount that a charity spends on administration costs is a meaningless indicator of effectiveness and it is potentially harmful to think so.

    The amount spent on administration is no indication of the quality of aid
    The amount spent on administration does not relate to the quality of work, whether projects were successful, or if the aid was even needed. Cheap programs are not necessarily better programs and can often be just the opposite.

    Administration costs can be manipulated both at the field level and the accounting level

    Field level -- Organizations can alter how money is spent to make it appear to be a program cost instead of administration. In Thailand, I oversaw four programs working across six provinces. In each province, we wanted to put all the programs together in one office to increase collaboration and share resources. If we paid for the office ourselves, it would be considered an administrative cost. If we gave each program money to rent their own office, it would be more expensive but would be considered program costs.

    Accounting level -- Organizations can assign percentages of staff time to either programs or administration. A staff member could have 90 percent of their salary recorded as a program cost and 10 percent assigned to administration. Organizations can appear highly efficient if they overvalue the donated goods they collect and distribute, making it seem that they provide more for less.

    The pressure to keep administration costs low can impact the type and quality of programs

    Organizations may under-staff or under-resource programs damaging their chances of success. If a charity does not have enough trained staff, they may spend too little time getting to know the needs of the aid recipients/participants and developing the program with them. This can lead to donations wasted on programs that are not wanted or needed by the people they are supposed to help.

    Organization may prioritize or specialize in projects with inherently low administration costs such as construction or donated goods. Construction materials are so expensive that there is a naturally lower percentage spent on administration. Donated goods also have relatively low administration costs when compared to the value of the donated goods claimed by the organization. In international aid this can lead to schools built and libraries stocked with books, both of which go unused because there is no money to hire teachers whose salaries are often seen by donors as administration.

    Be wary of any program claiming extremely low administration costs

    Administration is a necessary part of aid work. Organizations claiming all money will go directly to the aid recipients/participants either have a secondary source of funding, are expecting volunteers to cover administration costs out of their own pocket or are not being honest with donors.

    Meaningful financial indicators

    Instead of focusing on the percent spent on administration, look for a detailed breakdown of the previous year's expenses and financial audits from the past three years. Charities should be transparent about how they spend their money and how they manage their finances. If they don't trust you with their financial information, why should you trust them with your money?

    Want to learn more?

    What to look for in a nonprofit's financial audit

    A podcast discussing nonprofit administration costs

    How to choose a charity

    Follow Saundra Schimmelpfennig on Twitter:

    How to determine if an aid project is a good idea

    An interesting post on how to decide whether or not to donate to or volunteer for an aid project. I agree with the basic concept; however I'm not satisfied with her simplified approach to the first step. The misinformation/confusion of information available in our media often makes it overwhelming for an individual to understand an issue, so how do we address that. I'm not saying we should just throw money at a problem, but how can we make it easier for people to become informed about often-complex situations in other countries that demand/need our attention?

    How to determine if an aid project is a good idea

    May 17, 2010

    BBC News - New photocopy rules introduced in Tibet

    BBC News - New photocopy rules introduced in Tibet

    New photocopy rules in Tibet city
    By Michael Bristow
    BBC News, Beijing

    People in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa will have to register their names if they want to make photocopies.

    City shopkeepers say the authorities are particularly concerned about material printed in Tibetan.

    This appears to be an attempt to prevent ordinary people from printing political pamphlets and other documents.

    It suggests the security forces still have a tight grip on the city, two years after serious riots.

    Individuals wanting to photocopy documents will have to show their ID cards and have the information recorded.

    Companies will have to register their names and addresses, the number of copies they want and provide the name of the manager in charge of the work.

    The police say they will carry out checks and punish any shop that does not abide by the new regulation.

    'Aimed at criminals'

    Photocopying outlets in Lhasa told the BBC that the rule is primarily aimed at the Tibetan language.

    One shopkeeper said she would not now make copies of documents in Tibetan without police approval first.

    Material printed in Chinese does not seem to be too much of a problem.

    The authorities say the change is aimed at stopping criminals carrying out illegal activities.

    But the suspicion is that it is directed at those who might want to print political pamphlets critical of the Chinese government.

    It suggests that more than two years after a major outbreak of unrest in Tibetan areas, security is still tight in Lhasa.

    Op-Ed Columnist - Poverty in Africa and the Pill -

    Op-Ed Columnist - Poverty in Africa and the Pill -

    May 19, 2010

    Poverty and the Pill

    KINSHASA, Congo

    Earthquakes are more dramatic. Tsunamis make better television. AIDS is more visceral.

    But here’s a far more widespread challenge, one that’s also more fixable: the unavailability of birth control in many poor countries. I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey across a chunk of Central Africa with a 19-year-old university student, Mitch Smith. He won the right to bounce over impossible roads in the region where it’s easy to see firsthand how breakneck population growth is linked to poverty, instability and conflict.

    In almost every village we stop in, we chat with families whose huts overflow with small children — whom the parents can’t always afford to educate, feed or protect from disease.

    Here in Kinshasa, we met Emilie Lunda, 25, who had nearly died during childbirth a few days earlier. Doctors saved her life, but her baby died. And she is still recuperating in a hospital and doesn’t know how she will pay the bill.

    “I didn’t want to get pregnant,” Emilie told us here in the Congolese capital. “I was afraid of getting pregnant.” But she had never heard of birth control.

    In rural parts of Congo Republic, the other Congo to the north, we found that even when people had heard of contraception, they often regarded it as unaffordable.

    Most appalling, all the clinics and hospitals we visited in Congo Republic said that they would sell contraceptives only to women who brought their husbands in with them to prove that the husband accepted birth control.

    Condoms are somewhat easier to obtain, but many men resist them. More broadly, many men seem to feel that more children are a proud sign of more virility.

    So the pill, 50 years old this month in the United States, has yet to reach parts of Africa. And condoms and other forms of birth control and AIDS prevention are still far too difficult to obtain in some areas.

    America’s widely respected Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive health, says that 215 million women around the world are sexually active and don’t want to become pregnant — but are not using modern forms of contraception.

    Making contraception available to all these women worldwide would cost less than $4 billion, Guttmacher said in an important study published last year. That’s about what the United States is spending every two weeks on our military force in Afghanistan.

    What’s more, each dollar spent on contraception would actually reduce total medical spending by $1.40 by reducing sums spent on unplanned births and abortions, the study said.

    If contraception were broadly available in poor countries, the report said, more than 50 million unwanted pregnancies could be averted annually. One result would be 25 million fewer abortions per year. Another would be saving the lives of as many as 150,000 women who now die annually in childbirth.

    Family planning has stalled since the 1980s. Republican administrations cut off all American financing for the United Nations Population Fund, the main international agency supporting family-planning programs. Paradoxically, conservative hostility to some family-planning programs almost certainly resulted in more abortions.

    The Obama administration has restored that financing, and it should make a priority of broader access to contraception (and to girls’ education, which may be the most effective contraceptive of all).

    In fairness, family planning is harder than it looks. Many impoverished men and women, especially those without education, want babies more than contraceptives. As Mitch and I drove through villages, we asked many women how many babies they would ideally have. Most said five or six, and a few said 10.

    Parents want many children partly because they expect some to die. So mosquito nets, vaccinations and other steps to reduce child mortality also help to create an environment where family planning is more readily accepted.

    In short, what’s needed is a comprehensive approach to assisting men and women alike with family planning — not just a contraceptive dispensary.

    Romerchinelle Mietala, a 17-year-old girl in Mindouli, Congo Republic, has one baby and told us that she doesn’t really want another child for now. But she had never heard of contraceptives and, when we explained, was ambivalent. She worried about her status in the village if she didn’t get pregnant again reasonably soon.

    “If a woman doesn’t have a baby every two or three years, people will say she’s sterile,” she said.

    Another woman in Mindouli, Christine Kanda, said that she is ready to stop now after eight children — two of which have died. But she doesn’t know if her husband will accompany her to the clinic to sign off, and she doesn’t know how she would pay the $1 a month that the hospital charges.

    So she may just keep on producing babies.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    BBC News - Wealth gap grows between black and white Americans

    BBC News - Wealth gap grows between black and white Americans

    US wealth gap grows between races

    A new study has found that the gap in wealth between white and black Americans increased by more than four times between 1984 and 2007.

    The study released by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) found that African-Americans who earn substantial incomes have been unable to increase their net worth.

    In 23 years, the gap rose by $75,000 (£52,000), from $20,000 to $95,000.

    The study suggested these figures reflected public policy in the US.

    IASP found that public policies in the US benefited the wealthiest people, through tax cuts on investment income and inheritances, and disadvantaged others through discrimination in housing, credit and labour markets.

    "There continues to be a persistence of racial segregation," said Thomas Shapiro, IASP director and co-author of the paper.

    Mr Shapiro said that racial segregation operated by limiting the value of property in a community that is primarily African American, in comparison to a community that is predominantly white.

    'The gap widens'

    There was also a dramatic growth in financial assets among white families from a median value of $22,000 to $100,000, while African-Americans saw very little increase in financial assets and had a median wealth of $5,000 in 2007.

    The study stated the most notable gap was found between high-income whites and blacks.

    I was shocked by how large the number was
    Thomas Shapiro IASP director

    By 2007, the average middle-income white household accumulated $74,000, while average high-income African-Americans earned only $18,000.

    IASP said its study suggested job achievements were not adequate predictors of wealth holdings due to disparities between the wealth held by whites and blacks in the same income categories.

    Income equality for African-Americans does not necessarily lead to racial wealth equality.

    "I was shocked by how large the number was," Mr Shapiro said.

    "I've been in this research business, and looking at similar kinds of issues, for a long period of time, but even in my cynical and jaded moments I didn't expect that outcome over one generation."

    IASP's study concluded with a suggestion that public policy could now be used to close the gap it has created and sustained.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    BBC News - Thailand protesters defy PM vow to end stand-off

    BBC News - Thailand protesters defy PM vow to end stand-off

    With tensions escalating for 2 months now, the situation doesn't look like it will be resolved easily or in the near future.

    TED Blog: Social experiments to fight poverty: Esther Duflo on

    TED Blog: Social experiments to fight poverty: Esther Duflo on

    Alleviating poverty is more guesswork than science, and lack of data on aid's impact raises questions about how to provide it. But Clark Medal-winner Esther Duflo says it's possible to know which development efforts help and which hurt -- by testing solutions with randomized trials. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 16:47)"

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Hillary Clinton Speech | Center for Global Development

    Hillary Clinton Speech | Center for Global Development

    Opinion: USAID Needs More Autonomy

    By Nancy Birdsall and Sarah Jane Staats — Special to GlobalPost
    Published: May 10, 2010 09:22 ET

    WASHINGTON — In insider Washington there is a battle going on over who will control U.S. global development strategy. The gossip is that it is a White House-State Department fight compounded by a low-level struggle inside State between the secretary’s staff and the old development guard at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

    In reality, the president, the secretary of state and the head of USAID all want the same thing: stronger development tools to fight poverty and promote prosperity to create a better, safer America and world. Key members of Congress stand ready to offer support. Even Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been arguing for stronger development and diplomatic programs to complement U.S. defense efforts.

    But after 16 months of a new administration, taxpayers and concerned citizens are still wondering who is in charge of U.S. development strategy and programs, including the $20 billion a year the U.S. spends on development aid. Below the president himself, whom can we hold accountable for an effective strategy and good programs?

    The struggles over who is in charge of what and the resulting delay of the release of the White House’s first ever Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy are having unfortunate consequences for our foreign policy goals — from Pakistan to Haiti to our climate policy — as well as our partners in poor countries and our image abroad.

    Word is that a draft of the presidential study directive defines a strategy for global development covering not just aid, but trade, migration, climate change and more; and proposes that a senior development official should have a distinct voice at the foreign policy table, preferably with a seat on the National Security Council alongside defense and diplomacy. That is good.

    But what about who will be in charge and accountable to Congress, the president and the American people? We hope it will be head of USAID, Raj Shah, and that alongside the presidential study directive, the complementary review managed in the State Department will assign to him sufficient autonomy to do the job well.

    Why the head of USAID? Why does greater autonomy for USAID matter? While our three main tools of foreign policy — development, diplomacy and defense — should support one another, they have different means for achieving complementary but distinct ends. First, there are trade-offs between more immediate political decisions (often in the realm of defense and diplomacy) and the longer-term horizons and endurance required to reap the benefits of development investments.

    Second, there are differences in how broadly dispersed these tools should be. For diplomacy, it makes sense to have some presence in as many countries as possible. For defense, the goal may be to be in as few countries as needed. Development is somewhere in between. Especially given limited development resources, it may make the most sense to focus on fewer places for bigger impact, a direction the White House review of development policy may be headed.

    Perhaps most importantly, there must be some degree of separation between development and other foreign policy tools so Congress and the American people can track and measure development results against development objectives — today’s diffuse and unclear authority makes accountability impossible.

    In practical terms, elevating development, as Secretary Clinton has pledged to do, means providing the USAID administrator autonomy over policy, program and budget decision-making sufficient to get the biggest bang for our development bucks. Of course this is not an entitlement for the agency. As with other agencies, we should set the bar high for USAID and expect to see — and measure — strong performance and results, with programs and resources scaled up or down accordingly.

    Unfortunately, while we wait for clarity on these strategic and organizational decisions, the administration has launched two new development initiatives focused on food security ($3.5 billion over three years) and global health ($63 billion over six years) that have impenetrable joint management across agencies and offices that appear to perpetuate the current tangle. We fear this ad hoc approach will lead to uncertain and ad hoc results.

    For almost two decades, the U.S. has not only significantly under-invested in development; we have structured our development programs in ways that weaken, rather than strengthen their impact. It’s time for decisions. We urge Secretary Clinton to put the USAID administrator in charge of these two major new development initiatives. We urge her, whose commitment to development objectives is clear and compelling, to give Raj Shah the broader policy and budget authorities that will make USAID, as she promised in her January speech at the Center for Global Development, “the world’s premier development agency.”

    Secretary Clinton may be the first secretary of state whose imprint will be felt most deeply in the world’s poorest villages, where poverty, disease, inequality and lack of opportunity devastate families, impede growth and breed instability. We hope she will make getting development right — making it stronger and more accountable — her key legacy as secretary of state.

    Nancy Birdsall is the president of the Center for Global Development. Sarah Jane Staats is the director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development.

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