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Up Next: Secretary Clinton Budget Hearings

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify this week before four separate congressional committees on the FY13 president’s budget request for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The hearings will likely run the gamut of U.S. priorities in national security and foreign policy (all through the lens of budget austerity) and can be expected to hone in on hot button issues like Afghanistan, the Arab spring, and family planning.

Senegal: No Country for MCC?

Senegal, once a stable democracy, is on shaky ground as it approaches controversial presidential elections this weekend. President Abdoulaye Wade’s arguably unconstitutional bid for a third term is sparking protests and violence. Meanwhile, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)—whose raison d’etre is to work with just and democratic governments—maintains a $540 million, five-year development package in the country.

MCC Country Changes: Good Approach, Uneven Application

If a Millennium Challenge Corporation country changes income groups and no one is around to give it a compact, does it make a sound? In FY2010, the MCC adopted a useful approach to evaluate countries that transition from low income country (LIC) to lower middle income country (LMIC) status. But recent history suggests the approach is only being applied to countries already in the compact pipeline.

FY2013 MDB Budget: Stay the Course

The Obama administration’s FY2013 budget request may be a mixed bag for the overall international affairs budget, but its message on U.S. engagement in the multilateral development banks (MDBs) is clear: stay the course.

Magic 8 Ball on MCC’s Budget: Outlook Not So Good

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) shook the budget Magic 8 Ball and got a new response this year: outlook not so good. The administration requested $898.2 million for the MCC in FY2013, a decent number given today’s budget pressures and the same level appropriated in the FY2011 omnibus and FY2012 megabus.  Despite this, I’m concerned Congress will make further cuts and puzzled that, while the MCC leads U.S. development rhetoric, it continues to get short shrift in the budget.

Fake Aid

This is a joint post with Justin Sandefur

Winning hearts and minds is a key part of the US Military’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and a major rationale for USAID’s $15 billion investment in the country. This strategy rests on Secretary Clinton’s vision that defense, development and diplomacy are closely linked, mutually reinforcing goals -- a win-win-win foreign policy love triangle.

Some development experts, channeling their inner Dr. Phil, have been skeptical of this model. But much of the industry has been won over by the lure of Pentagon-sized budgets for real aid projects serving real development goals like rural development and girls’ education.

Development Budget Nuggets and Some Cautions

The President’s much anticipated 2013 budget was released yesterday.  My initial reaction is that the request is a responsible one given the political dynamics of budget austerity.  There are some good examples of better matching resources to objectives, although I still believe country allocations have not been scrubbed well enough.

From the White House with Love: Call for Global Development Council Nominees

The development community got an early Valentine from the White House: an executive order establishing the President’s Global Development Council. The council’s mission is to inform the president and other senior government officials on U.S. global development policies. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help the White House generate nominees for the twelve non-government seats at the table.

USAID Needs to Develop Guidelines for Trilateral Cooperation

The concept of trilateral cooperation – understood in its basic form as a partnership among a traditional donor, an emerging donor, and a low income country – has been popping up with greater frequency of late signaling an increased interest in this new style of engagement.  Although the idea has been around since at least 2005 and already represents a growing share of south-to-south cooperation, it has not gained much currency in U.S.

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