Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs

 

An image of two Afghan children walking.

Giving up the “Statebuilding” Ghost: Lessons from Afghanistan for Foreign Assistance in Fragile States

The end of America’s twenty-year war in Afghanistan will change many paradigms that have dominated US foreign policy for decades. President Biden’s recent assertion that military interventions are not the solution to humanitarian crises is a good place to start.  Just as urgent is the need to revisit the notion that foreign assistance can build a state.

Charting the Way Forward: An Initial Framework for a Compact Model for Refugees

As part of a joint CGD-IRC study group, we have been developing concrete ideas on how to move the global community toward providing refugees and their host communities pathways to self-reliance that can benefit all. Greater attention to education and livelihoods opportunities for refugees is a welcome development, but it is critical to ensure that new financing commitments are not simply funding business-as-usual.

The Elusive Long Term

President Obama’s new national security strategy appropriately defines the limits of military power. But with the President’s request to Congress to authorize a new war on terror, over $5 billion in supplemental funds appropriated for the military fight against ISIL, and over $10 billion requested to fight ISIL and support other counterterrorism efforts in the President’s FY2016 budget, the administration’s counterterrorism approach hasn’t caught up to the message.

$16 Billion for Afghanistan: Why Less Money Might Be a Good Thing

We returned last week from a brief trip to Afghanistan, where we met with people on all sides of Kabul’s enormous aid industry – representatives of several donor agencies, contractors, NGOs and current and former Afghan government officials – about the underlying strategy of the U.S. aid effort in Afghanistan, and how it must change during the upcoming transition. As we departed Afghanistan, President Karzai flew to Tokyo asking for at least $4 billion per year for the next four years, and he appears to have gotten it. Is this good news? Is $16 billion too much or too little? And does the mutual accountability framework agreed to by the Afghan government and the international community mark a real turning point in the aid strategy for Afghanistan, or is this just more of the same? Here are a few reasons that the results of the Tokyo conference are mostly good news.

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.