If Congress doesn't pass an omnibus appropriation bill, the resulting funding cuts will "seriously impede our efforts to meet unanticipated national security needs," Secretary Clinton said yesterday in a statement.
Without an omnibus bill, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would be subject to a yearlong continuing resolution that "would sharply cut our funding and severely weaken the [State] Department and USAID's ability to execute our critical civilian missions, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq," Clinton stated.
She also said, "We need these resources now more than ever to support national security priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan where we are helping secure gains made by our military and preventing the spread of violent extremism."
Clinton and other government officials have repeatedly said that U.S. foreign policy rests on three pillars: defense, diplomacy, and development. Weaken the pillars of diplomacy and development, and the edifice of U.S. foreign policy collapses. Leaders such as Gen. David Petraeus have said that there is "no military solution" to Iraq (and the same can be said of Afghanistan). The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review -- released yesterday and titled "Leading Through Civilian Power," asks, "How can we do better?" It answers, "we will build up our civilian power: the combined force of civilians working together across the U.S. government to practice diplomacy, carry out development projects, and prevent and respond to crises."
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), wish to cut the State Department and foreign-aid budgets. Guess she's not into the three-pillars thing.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
In a videoconference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday, Secretary Clinton announced the transfer of $150 million in U.S. direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority to help it build a viable Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution. Clinton said the latest infusion of money brings the United States' total direct budget assistance to $225 million for 2010 and overall U.S. support and investment to almost $600 million for 2010.
"This figure underscores the strong determination of the American people and this administration to stand with our Palestinian friends even during difficult economic times," the secretary of state said in announcing the transfer of funds.
The money -- whose use will be carefully monitored by the United States, the World Bank, and the IMF -- will go toward the important task of building a well-functioning Palestinian state. Clinton explained, "This new funding will help the Palestinian Authority pay down its debt, continue to deliver services and security to its people, and keep the progress going. It will support our work together to expand Palestinians' access to schools, clinics, and clean drinking water in both the West Bank and Gaza. And it will allow Prime Minister Fayyad's government to build and modernize courthouses and police stations, train judges and prosecutors, and launch new economic development initiatives."
This emphasis on building a viable Palestinian state accords with some of Elliott Abram's advice for President Obama, as detailed in his recent FP piece, "Build Up the West Bank." Abrams writes that instead of focusing on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Obama should instead spend the rest of his term helping build a Palestinian state in the West Bank. He writes:
If you build it, they will sign. The only way to reassure Palestinians that a state is possible is to make one, and the only way to reassure Israelis that their security will be enhanced rather than diminished is for them to see it with their own eyes. That won't happen for either side at Camp David or Oslo or Annapolis -- only right there on the ground in the West Bank.
Here is a video of Clinton's and Fayyad's remarks:
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton presided today over the signing of $275 million in U.S. aid to Jordan for three water and wasterwater projects in the water-poor Middle Eastern country. The assistance, made through the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation, will help Jordan upgrade its water-supply network, improve wastewater collection, and expand an important wastewater treatment plant, thereby giving nearly 2 million people better access to clean water, Clinton said in her remarks.
Clinton also acknowledged that the $275 million in aid comes at a time when many Americans are struggling with finances, but explained that Americans are "committed to Jordan's future" because a thriving Jordan benefits the entire world:
I want to say a few words directly to the people of Jordan. In a time when many families here in the United States are tightening their own belts and making difficult sacrifices, we are making this investment in your country because we believe in Jordan's promise and we are committed to Jordan's future. Americans understand that a strong and prosperous Jordan is good for the region and good for the world. We want to work with you to realize our shared aspirations and shape the future together.
Clinton also thanked Jordan for its support in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, saying, "The Jordanian Government … [has] worked with us literally side by side and telephone by telephone to support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the goal of two states for two peoples and a comprehensive peace in the region. We could not do this without Jordan's leadership."
In the photo above, Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh stand as U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes (seated at right) and Mohammad Najjar, Jordan's minister of water and irrigation, sign the compact today in Washington. Below is a video of the remarks from the signing ceremony:
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton said yesterday that one of her pet peeves is poor countries that don't tax their elite and then expect the United States to come in and save their people.
Clinton made the remark in a round-table discussion on the U.S. administration's new global development policy. Her complete remark was:
It's one of my pet peeves: Countries that will not tax their elite, who expect us to come in and help them serve their people, are just not going to get the kind of help from us that historically they may have.
Moderator Frank Sesno of George Washington University followed up by asking, "You're going to go to countries that are getting [aid] now and say we're going to stop?" Clinton responded by singling out Pakistan:
There's got to be some reciprocity here. Because one of the things that is now happening in Pakistan, and I said this when I was there last year, you cannot have a tax rate of 9 percent of GDP when big landholders and all the other elites do not pay anything or pay so little it's laughable, and you've got such a rate of poverty and everybody is looking to the United States and other donors to come in and help.
Sesno pushed further, asking whether Clinton was truly prepared to tell governments of countries filled with poor people that the U.S. government would withdraw or scale back aid if they didn't tax their elite, who are often the base of political support for those countries' leaders. Clinton said that was one of the messages that the United States was starting to deliver and mentioned that Pakistan's finance minister has already introduced a set of tax and economic reforms.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, another of the participants in the round-table discussion, backed Clinton up, saying:
I've been doing this for a long time. I have never heard a discussion like this where you have a secretary of state saying what Secretary Clinton just said, which is recognizing that unless we are tougher on how we provide assistance, unless we look at those basic simple things, like are they running their country in a way that gives us confidence that our resources will be used well, we should not be financing them at this level. That is an enormously consequential thing.
Something tells me that if Barack Obama's administration is having such a difficult time increasing taxes on the richest Americans, then it's going to have an even harder time getting another country's government to do the same. And in the case of Pakistan, is that country really going to do the United States' bidding? In the interest of national security, the United States will continue pouring billions of dollars into Pakistan; with so many Islamist extremist groups on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the United States isn't going to scale back development efforts just because the Pakistani government won't reform its tax code and crack down on tax evasion.
(For more on this topic, check out my colleague Josh Rogin's report, "Clinton presses Pakistan to raise taxes on wealthy" over at FP's The Cable.)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton yesterday announced an international alliance to improve infant and maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The five-year effort joins the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the development agencies of the U.S., Australian, and British governments in an effort to "increase access to family planning and reduce maternal and neonatal deaths," as Clinton put it.
Our effort will contribute [to] increasing access to family planning by 2015 for 100 million women who now lack it. It will also boost the number of skilled birth attendants, babies delivered in clinics or hospitals, and women and newborns who receive quality medical care.
Infant and maternal health is an issue that people both agree on and disagree on so strongly. Everyone agrees on promoting infant and maternal health. How can anyone be against healthy babies and healthy moms? But then there are the divisive issues of contraception and abortion.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and global health, wrote an op-ed in Sept. 19's Washington Post warning that abortion-rights activists could sidetrack this week's meetings on the Millennial Development Goals. He singled out Clinton, pointing out that she "has said publicly that she believes access to abortion is part of maternal and reproductive health." (And indeed, her remarks on the topic irked many Canadians when she visited Canada in March.) Smith cautioned that "Including abortion in the U.N. Outcome Document or in its implementation will undermine the Millennium Development Goals."
Curiously, Smith's op-ed never mentioned the term "contraceptive" or anything that could be interpreted as its synonym. Maybe it was outside the scope of his op-ed, but if you want to reduce abortions, one of the obvious things to do is to improve access to contraceptives for women who want them. Without a conception, you can't have an abortion.
For the sake of women and infants worldwide, let's hope activists on both sides of the abortion debate don't let their disagreements get in the way of important mutally-agreed-upon measures that save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on Earth.
DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton and Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin will be hosting a conference on hunger next month in New York, alongside the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Food security is a particularly pressing issue right now in light of the flood-induced humanitarian disaster in Pakistan (as shown in the food line above) and the wheat shortage caused by the wildfires in Russia. Martin said in an Aug. 22 statement: "We are prioritising the prevention of under-nutrition in children under the age of two, as the science shows that children never recover from malnutrition at that age; they never develop to their full potential physically or mentally."
Those of us who have enough to eat have so much to be thankful for, and it's great that Clinton is taking action on this important humanitarian issue. The world community must keep people from starving, but ultimately, the solution to hunger is improved governance. A country that can't feed its own people has a lot to be ashamed about.
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton this morning encouraged Americans to text "SWAT" to 50555 to help with relief efforts in Pakistan and assist those devastated by the historic floods that have so far killed at least 1,500 people and adversely affected 3 million. You'll be making a $10 donation to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees that will go toward providing tents, food, clothing, and clean water. (Reply with "yes" to confirm the gift.)
"U.S. helicopters have already airlifted hundreds of people out of danger and delivered critical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of halal meals.… We've sent boats to help with the search and rescue and water-purification units to provide clean water for thousands of people, as well as temporary bridges to replace the bridges damaged by the floods. All of this has been done in close coordination with the government of Pakistan and their disaster-management specialists.
There may be a lot of Americans out there rolling their eyes about their tax dollars going to a faraway country filled with millions of people harboring anti-American sentiment, but this is a U.S. national security issue, not just a humanitarian one. If the Pakistani government can't provide satisfactory disaster relief, militant Islamic charity groups will step in. Consider these three paragraphs from Aug. 2's Washington Post:
In past emergencies in Pakistan -- including an earthquake in 2005 and the refugee crisis caused by last year's army offensives -- Islamic charities with close ties to banned militant organizations provided basic services, filling a void left by the government and scoring points in the battle here for the public's affection.
Although that does not yet appear to be happening on a wide scale, analysts caution that the government should soon improve its performance.
"The government, unfortunately, seems to be mostly helpless," said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general. "I'm very concerned that the militant organizations will be jumping in."
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Over at FP's AfPak Channel, Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development and two of her colleagues explain how Secretary Clinton can build the trust of the Pakistani people -- rather than merely buy it through the aid from the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation. In summary, they suggest:
First, [Clinton] should declare, unequivocally, that the goal of the U.S. aid program is Pakistan's own long-term development. Second, she should lay out a clear and compelling vision of what that means -- supported by specific examples and indicators of success. Third, together with the Pakistani government, she should commit to measure progress against those indicators and provide useful information to ordinary Pakistanis about the issues that they care most about.
Clinton has already done the first part -- earlier today she stated,"[I]t's our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term." Will doing the second and third parts build Pakistanis' trust -- such as that of the operating-room technician seen above at the Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital in Rawalpindi, who was watching Clinton earlier today on TV?
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
In Islamabad today, Secretary Clinton announced a whole slew of development projects for Pakistan: hydroelectric dams, refurbishment of municipal water-supply systems, hospital renovations, agricultural projects, etc. In the photo above, she points to a map marking the location of many projects, while Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi looks on.
The projects are being funded through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation passed in the United States last year that provides $7.5 billion over five years to fix Pakistan's infrastructure and promote its economic develpment. The U.S. government is trying to dispel the distrust that many Pakistanis have toward the United States, and Clinton was trying to make it clear that the development aid is for helping Pakistan itself and is not just for advancing U.S. security interests. At the news conference with Qureshi, as seen in the photo above, Clinton said:
"There's a legacy of suspicion that we inherited.… It's not going to be eliminated overnight. But it's our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term, and that the partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies."
"We are committed to building a partnership with Pakistan that of course strengthens security and protects the people of Pakistan, but goes far beyond security."
It seems pretty naive to think this aid package isn't primarily about security. Regardless of intent, however, will it win Pakistani hearts and minds? Methinks not. As of last October, when President Obama signed the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, only 15 percent of Pakistanis surveyed supported it. Many think the aid money comes with too many strings attached and compromises Pakistan's sovereignty.
I wish Clinton good luck, though. With her star power, you never know.
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Both Clintons -- Hillary and Bill -- are at the United Nations today! They're attending an international donors conference on Haiti. (As you may know, Bill Clinton is U.N. special envoy for Haiti.) They are not sitting next to another, though. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Haitian President René Préval are seated between them.
The Clintons looking more studious:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Two Bills testified on Capitol Hill today: Bill Clinton and Bill Gates. In front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the two spoke in favor of legislation that would increase support for global health and testified about more cost-effective ways to tackle HIV/AIDS and poverty worldwide.
Gates is co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Clinton of course has his Clinton Global Initiative. Gates's testimony is here, and it looks like Clinton's statement hasn't been uploaded yet.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton met today with Haitian President René Préval (above) in Washington. Referring to Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, she said:
The United States and the international community mounted the largest ever rescue and relief effort. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough, and therefore, we are holding these meetings with President Préval today and tomorrow and the next day to discuss in depth what we need to do still to alleviate suffering and what we will do together to help build back Haiti better."
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Here are a couple of quick links about how Secretary Clinton's meeting about Haiti earthquake relief went yesterday in Montreal:
•"Clinton Says Plan for Haiti Exists" (Washington Times). A couple of excerpts:
The Obama administration wants to use a plan for rebuilding Haiti it had before this month's earthquake, rather than "start from scratch," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday as top diplomats from around the world gathered to map out the country's recovery.
"So we have a plan," she said. "It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations. And I don't want to start from scratch, but we have to recognize the changed challenges we are now confronting."
•"Haiti: 10 Years and $10 Billion in Aid?" (Toronto Star). An excerpt:
Clinton called it "novel" to do a needs assessment first, followed by planning, then the pledging of cash.
"It might seem different from what you're used to," Clinton said, "where people come together and make all kinds of promises, many of which never get realized because the follow-up work is never done."
ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton met face to face with rape victims yesterday in Goma, an area of Congo that's the epicenter of rape perpetrated by government troops and rebel groups. After conversing with two women who had been gang-raped, Clinton's voice broke with emotion as she said:
The atrocities that these women have suffered, and that stand for the atrocities that so many have suffered, distill evil into its basest form. … In the face of such evil, people of goodwill everywhere must respond. … We say to the world that those who attack civilian populations with systematic rape are guilty of crimes against humanity."
Clinton announced $17 million in U.S. aid to respond to the sexual violence. The money will go toward training doctors to treat victims, training police officers (especially female ones) to investigate rape, and providing victims with video cameras to document crimes.
In the photo above:
Father Samuel holds the hand and face of a rape victim as they pray on Aug. 11, moments after the young Congolese woman underwent surgery to repair physical damage suffered while being raped. Doctors at the Heal Africa Clinic in Goma treat women who have been sexually abused and who, in the majority of cases, develop serious physical problems due to the vicious nature of the attacks.
Photo: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.