200 organizations & individuals call on Obama to lead on development

 In Peace Action West News

As we struggle with the failure of the military strategy in Afghanistan and look for positive nonmilitary tools to help the Afghan people create peace and stability in their communities, it’s important to look at the big picture of how the US interacts with the world.

President Obama came into office with a vision for elevating development as a key pillar of US foreign policy.  Now they must get down to the difficult work of creating a strong strategy for global development and bringing our civilian agencies in the 21st century. Peace Action West, as part of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network,  joined with more than 200 organizations and prominent individuals to send a message to the President with an open letter that was published in this morning’s Politico. We need to improve our ability to contribute to global efforts to eradicate poverty and increase access to education and health care so we can not only end wars, but also create the more peaceful world we want to share.  You can see the Politico ad here, and read the full letter below.

Dear Mr. President,

We applaud your strong leadership on reducing poverty and promoting economic growth worldwide, as exemplified by Feed the Future, the Global Health Initiative, and your consistent support for elevating development as a pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

Despite the promise of these new programs and the visionary “New Approach to Advancing Development” for the U.S. that you endorsed at the recent G8 Summit, we do not believe our country can truly empower poor people to realize a more prosperous and secure future if we don’t change the way we do business with respect to foreign assistance and development.  We currently rely on an inefficient, dispersed system that has grown in a disjointed, haphazard manner without any coherent strategy as to how the parts work together to achieve our goals.

It is time to bring our tools for delivering foreign aid into the 21st Century so that we can do more with precious taxpayer dollars to help those in need. Change is needed now, because effective foreign assistance and a smart approach to development have never been more important to the success of U.S. foreign policy.

The efforts of your Administration, Members of Congress across the political spectrum, and committed advocates have put us closer than ever to real reform. But your leadership is critical.  As the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s landmark signing of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 approaches, we urge you to follow through on your pledge to “modernize our foreign assistance” with two important actions:

  • Create America’s first-ever Global Development Strategy. When you spoke to the United Nations nearly a year ago, you promised to return with a plan to reduce global poverty.  We believe that the U.S. Global Development Strategy should be the key component of that plan, in order to provide our nation with a clear roadmap for U.S. leadership in this vital effort.
  • Partner with Congress to rewrite the existing, Cold War-era Foreign Assistance Act, a partial draft of which was recently unveiled by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, adding to momentum created by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s bipartisan passage of S.1524 last year.

We believe the American people will strongly support this effort to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective at delivering results for people in the developing world pursuant to our national interests.  We pledge our energy and resolve to help you in these efforts.

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