Clinton speech sets “a new mindset for a new century” linking development, defense
Published: January 7, 2010
If youre in the military you probably missed it, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech on Wednesday that kept nearly everyone in Washingtons development aid community glued to their seats.
One day before President Barack Obamas first appointed USAID director finally takes the helm, Clinton took the podium to defend the purpose of development, and its new role as a tool for helping achieve security objectives.
For many older aid workers, its a new day for the three ds: development, diplomacy, and defense.
In her own words, the secretary explained the subject of the speech: Why development in other countries matters to the American people and to our nation's security and prosperity.
Thats nice, but the purpose of the speech was to set a course for a rudderless ship that Obamas national security team thinks is a big weapon in the U.S. arsenal against al-Qaida and terrorism: the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Three sentences later, Clinton steered the wheel right into the storm: We cannot stop terrorism or defeat the ideologies of violent extremism when hundreds of millions of young people see a future with no jobs, no hope, and no way ever to catch up to the developed world.
She continued: Development was once the province of humanitarians, charities, and governments looking to gain allies in global struggles. Today it is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative -- as central to advancing American interests and solving global problems as diplomacy or defense.
Because development is indispensible, it demands a new approach.
Got that, NGO workers?
For several years, Secretary Gates and other defense leaders have called for greater civilian resources to achieve whole of government U.S. counterinsurgency goals. Yet, the Obama administration let USAID, the organization in charge of development and humanitarian aid, inexplicably go without an administrator for nearly an entire year after the inauguration.
In that year, dozens of major development organizations sounded warnings against working too closely with the U.S. military and NATO in Afghanistan, Iraq, and worldwide, especially when those governments want humanitarian work to fulfill counterinsurgency goals. (See related article: Mixing Fighting and Food)
Many in those organizations are nervous that the U.S. military-centric approach to those theaters threatens the traditional firewall between humanitarian and military workers that has existed for decades. Others have embraced the Petraeus Doctrine (secure population centers by force and quickly starting public goodwill projects like schools, sewers and food aid), arguing if they dont conduct humanitarian operations within the Pentagons rules for the warzone, nobody will.
Clinton acknowledged the split. Differences of opinion over where and how to pursue development have hardened into entrenched, almost theological, positions, she said.
Then she cut through those concerns, saying flatly: We are working to integrate development more closely with defense and diplomacy in the field.
I know that the word 'integration' sets off alarm bells. There is a concern that integrating development means diluting it or politicizing it -- giving up our long-term development goals to achieve short-term objectives or handing over more of the work of development to our diplomats or defense experts.
That is not what we will do. What we will do is leverage the expertise of our diplomats and military on behalf of development, and vice versa. The three Ds must be mutually reinforcing.
Its the new world order between Foggy Bottom and Arlington. This is the third major development speech Clinton has given, the first at Council on Foreign Relations and another at Georgetown, and most recently at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in Washington.
In a background briefing before her delivery, incoming USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said one of his goals was "fundamentally elevating development to truly stand with diplomacy and defense as a major component of our foreign policy."
And State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley put that in context, saying, "Obviously, you see the importance in terms of our ongoing effort in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and including places like Yemen."
It's time for a new mindset for a new century. Time to retire old debates and replace dogmatic attitudes with clear reasoning and common sense, Clinton said.
Its no accident that while the Pentagon completes its strategic framework, the Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR, the suits in State are working on the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Oh, and the White House is drafting it's own Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy.
If youre still reading and are wearing a suit of camouflage, you may want to read on.
The work of these development experts helps make future military action more remote. It is much cheaper to pay for development up front than to pay for war over the long run. And in Afghanistan and elsewhere, U.S. troops are helping to provide the security that allows development to take root. In places torn apart by sectarianism or violent extremism, long-term development gains are far less likely. In the past, coordination between the Three Ds has often fallen short, and everyone has borne the consequences, Clinton said.
A new day, indeed. We'll see if Washington puts its money where it's mouth is when the FY2011 budget request is release in the next few weeks.