Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Understanding Foreign Assistance Part 1: Why does the US participate?

Foreign assistance from the US is part of the foreign policy strategy.  The foreign policy strategy is derived at a high-level from a document called the National Security Strategy.  And from this, we have 3 key documents on foreign assistance in US.  All of these are developed jointly with the Department of State. 

The State/USAID Strategic Plan is formulated every 5 years.
The QDDR is a 2010 review of State Department and USAID operations and review for priority improvements for the future.

The CBJ for Foreign Operations is the proposed budget for State and USAID.

USAID's Goals for foreign assistance are then:
  1. Transformation Development
    • USAID works to support far-reaching institutional changes of governance, health and human services, education, and economic growth.  All striving to build capacity to sustain progress.
  2. Strengthening Fragile States
    • Poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can weaken states.  Failed states can lead to the prevalence of terrorism or drug trafficking ultimately impacting the security of the United States.
  3. Supporting US Geostrategic Goals
    • Foreign Assistance is a leveraging instrument with US partners, but more than that, it's a method to help move partners to becoming more stable, prosperous, and democratic societies.  This can result in new allies and new trade partners as well.
  4. Addressing Transnational Problems
    • There are many global issues that can only be managed through collective efforts.  For these issues, no single country could bring the resources and clout necessary to adequately address them.  USAID thus seeks partnerships and cooperation on such issues like infectious diseases, international trade, criminal activities, and trafficking in persons.
  5. Providing Humanitarian Relief
    • Foreign assistance is a way to show the generosity and compassion of the American people.  It is a way for the US to assist in crises around the world such recent events such as the Japanese Earthquake, the Bangkok floods, or the drought in East Africa.
From the above, foreign assistance is a powerful tool in US foreign policy to fulfill numerous objectives of US strategic interest.  Working for USAID, it is important to understand the picture on the how/why the organization does what it does.  It is also good to know that by doing the job well, helping other people around the world achieve health, prosperity, and freedom, we are meeting the foreign policy objectives.

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