Hundreds of delegations from all over the world recently came to Washington DC for the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The meetings bring together development groups and agencies to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness.
This year the United States' delegation was fielding a shallower bench than normal thanks to the government shutdown that has entered its third week, leaving many departments and agencies operating with skeleton staffs. This situation highlights the challenges facing a country still recovering from the global financial crisis that began on its own soil, with fractured domestic politics that not only jeopardise its ability to govern at home but also cast doubt on its economic heft abroad.
It is in this context, combined with new realities of the 21st century – including recent failures of monetary and financial regulatory policy, the rise of China, and such unattended global problems as microbial resistance to drugs and climate change – that it is time for the US to reconsider its role as a donor and supporter of international development.