Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The token election special

As you all know, we've tried to stay away from any election news, even when a candidate does say a word or two about poverty. Even that hardly ever happened.

But whoever gets elected today, will have to face the issue of poverty. The winner will have to set development policies that will effect the poor. A think tank recieved some ink today from the Voice of America that outlines what lies ahead for the new president with development aid.

The think tank called the Center for Global Development published the book "The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President" One of the main authors of the book, Nancy Birdsall was interviewed by the VOA

Voice of America November 4th

In an interview with VOA, Birdsall said the “key risk” to the US in the future and one that will “immediately” confront the new president “comes in the form of what have come to be called ‘fragile states’ or ‘failed states’ – sometimes ‘flailing states’ is the expression used.”

These terms are applied to under-resourced countries with little or no good governance, poor economies and extreme poverty, in which a void therefore exists to be exploited by terrorist groups and other militants.

Birdsall says instability in Africa – especially in countries like Sudan and Somalia, where Islamic militants are a powerful regional force – has the potential in what is today a “much smaller world” to “spill over” into neighboring countries and eventually into the United States itself, in the form of terrorist attacks against American targets.

She advises the new administration to take a number of steps as soon as possible to prevent “negative fallout” from fragile states.

“The key issue is to provide support – and I’m not just talking about money and foreign aid – to these countries, to make them safer and more secure” through expanded training to their security forces, for example.

Birdsall says drug trafficking in the developing world poses an “obvious risk” to the United States, as does the “corruption that often follows in countries that are victims of the drug trafficking problem.”


Birdsall calls upon the new president to, within a few weeks of taking office, appoint a special official to lead America’s development efforts in poor countries. This, she writes in The White House and the World, will “realize a revitalized vision of the role of the United States in the world and (will) ensure the country’s ability to implement that vision of a better future for all the world’s citizens, Americans included.”

Such a person, she insists, should have “substantial experience on the ground” in the developing world.

“Ideally it’s a person who understands the global community’s approach to working in and with developing countries. It’s someone who understands the economic issues, the social issues, ideally has some experience in international organizations, or in a key part of the US government…. In, say, the US Treasury or USAID (United States Agency for International Development).”

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