The United States is falling short in getting the most bang for its development buck. Even our best aid projects often fail to maximize the benefits for either effective development or national interests.
Six months after the earthquake, the plan for a "New Future for Haiti" (a "Haitian-led" effort being funded under World Bank oversight, through a commission whose members include only seven Haitians) seems remote indeed.
As civil society groups try to figure out where they fit into Haiti's quest for "development," movements for workers' rights are emerging as a counterweight to the aid agencies often associated with oppressive neo-imperialism.
Presidential backing for a single bilateral trade agreement does not a policy make. The three-legged stool -- defense, diplomacy and development -- for promoting U.S. interests internationally is still looking pretty wobbly.
There are ways of continuing this war in the right manner for the right reasons, but this administration has failed to articulate a coherent vision that aligns with the way in which this battle is being fought.
Rep. Lowey's statement that she would not support foreign aid until there was an end to corruption is understandable. But cutting off foreign aid now is absolutely the wrong approach for the US to take in Afghanistan.
Our own government has quietly admitted that America needs foreign help to handle the oil spill -- almost two months after pushing that help away. Far more oil could have been intercepted before it fouled the Gulf Coast.
Increased focus on private sector development, trade preferences, direct investment and serious focus on accountability will take us toward a middle ground on foreign aid that moves us forward rather than lagging in debate.
Take a walk for ten years in Rea Dol's shoes and you might learn something about the imperialist attitude of NGOs in Haiti. "They would not help me before the quake. Why would I bother to ask them now?"