Foreign Policy Address–Hillary Clinton

This was noted by Nicholas Kristoff, the NYT writer. It appears in Foreign Policy magazine. The whole speech is too long for me to legitimately copy it but I strongly recommend that you go to the website to read it. She is making much more sense than almost anybody has in years. What she gets, better than most, is that we can only live in peace and security if others do as well. Nothing excuses terrorism, but terrorism feeds on the pain and suffering of people in poverty. The Taliban would get little support if the Afghanis had education, food, health and other resources. The same is true for Hamas.

That this speech was given at the Peterson Institute I find interesting. The founder, Pete Peterson, is the same billionaire who wants to get rid of Social Security and Medicare.

Development in the 21st Century

JANUARY 6, 2010

I would like to start today with a story about America that often goes untold. It’s the story of what can happen around the world when American know-how, American dollars, and American values are put to work to change people’s lives.

Like many of you, I have seen the transformative power of development and the passion and commitment of aid workers who devote their careers to this difficult work. I have seen it in a village in Indonesia, where new mothers and their infants received nutritional and medical counseling through a family planning program supported by our government. In Nicaragua, where poor women started small businesses in their barrio with help from a U.S-backed microfinance project. In the West Bank, where students are learning English today through a program that we sponsor. In South Africa, where our development assistance is helping bring anti-retrovirals to areas ravaged by HIV and AIDS.

I have also traveled across this country and heard farmers, factory workers, teachers, nurses, students, and hard-working mothers and fathers wonder why the United States is spending taxpayer dollars to improve the lives of people in the developing world when there is so much hardship here at home.

That’s a fair question — one that I’d like to address today: Why development in other countries matters to the American people and to our nation’s security and prosperity.

The United States seeks a safer, more prosperous, more democratic, and more equitable world. We cannot be assured of that progress when one-third of humankind live in conditions that offer them little chance of building better lives for themselves or their children.

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.

We cannot build a stable global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization, cut off from markets and out of reach of modern technologies.

We cannot rely on regional partners to help us stop conflicts and counter global criminal networks when those countries are struggling to stabilize and secure their own societies.

We cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make rights real.

We cannot stop global pandemics until billions of people gain access to better health care, and we cannot address climate change or scarcer resources until billions gain access to greener energy and sustainable livelihoods.

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. For too long, our work has been riven by conflict and controversy. Differences of opinion over where and how to pursue development have hardened into entrenched, almost theological, positions that hinder progress and hold us back. These stand-offs aren’t fair to the experts who put their lives on the line doing their work. And they aren’t fair to the American taxpayers who, by and large, want to do good in the world, so long as their money doesn’t go to waste.

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. And time to elevate development as a central pillar of our foreign policy and to rebuild USAID into the world’s premier development agency.

The challenges we face are numerous. So we must be selective and strategic about where and how we get involved. But whether it’s to improve long-term security in places torn apart by conflict, like Afghanistan, or to further progress in countries that are on their way to becoming regional anchors of stability, like Tanzania, we pursue development for the same reasons: to improve lives, fight poverty, expand rights and opportunities, strengthen communities, and secure democratic institutions and governance; and in doing so, advance global stability, improve our own security, and project our values and leadership in the world.

A new mindset means a new commitment to results. Development is a long-term endeavor; none of the changes we seek will happen overnight. To keep moving in the right direction, we must evaluate our progress and have the courage to rethink our strategies if we’re falling short. We must not simply add up the dollars we spend or the number of programs we run, but measure the results — the lasting changes that those dollars and programs have helped achieve. And we must share the proof of our progress with the public. The elementary school teacher in Detroit trying to send her kids to college and the firefighter in Houston working hard to support his family are funding our work. They deserve to know that when we spend their tax dollars, we’re getting results.

We must also be honest that, in some situations, we will invest in places that are strategically critical but where we are not guaranteed success. In countries that are incubators of extremism, like Yemen, or are ravaged by poverty and natural disasters, like Haiti, the odds are long. But the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater.

We must accept that our development model cannot be formulaic — that what works in Pakistan may not work in Peru. So our approach must be case by case and country by country — analyzing needs, assessing opportunities, and tailoring our investments and our partnerships in a way that maximizes the impact of our efforts and dollars.

Two important reviews of our nation’s development policy are now underway: the inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, led by officials from USAID and the State Department; and the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy, which is led by the White House and includes representatives from the more than 15 agencies that contribute to our global development mission.

Read the rest at


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