Tales from the Trail

Clinton sees diplomats of the future in cargo pants as well as pinstripes

CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Congress to finance a major new U.S. push on overseas development aid, arguing that only by building up a global middle class will the United States increase its own national security.

Clinton, in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine which previews a pending State Department report on diplomacy and development, says it is essential for Congress to keep the money flowing even as the United States grapples with its own financial problems at home.

“The American people must understand that spending taxpayer dollars on diplomacy and development is in their interest,” Clinton wrote, saying it was time to put to rest “old debates on foreign aid.”

“It is time to move beyond the past and to recognize diplomacy and development as national security priorities and smart investments in the United States’ future stability and security,” Clinton said. “These missions can succeed, but only with the necessary congressional leadership and support. Congress must provide the necessary funding now.”

Clinton’s article comes ahead of the expected release of the State Department’s first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a study launched in July 2009 which aims to set the framework for how U.S. diplomacy and overseas aid efforts will work together in coming years.

Senator to USAID: Stop your high-flying ways

An influential senator warned the official U.S. overseas aid agency: come down to earth with the impoverished people or see your funding cut.

QUAKE-HAITI/FRANCESenator Patrick Leahy said he was concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had become “distant from the trenches,” sometimes more eager to deal with foreign elites than the suffering masses who had no voice.

Leahy’s opinion matters because he chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees the budget for USAID, which the Obama administration hopes to transform into an important tool to boost the U.S. image abroad.