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QDDR: we can hardly contain our excitement

Aid Watch is as excited as everyone else to get a leaked, advance summary of the Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review, (HT Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy) which is a critical part of the US government process to set its priorities  on Development.

We love to seize occasions where we can be more positive to reward positive things happening, and not be our usual snarky selves.

Today is not one of those occasions.

Some highlights of the QDDR:

It would concern us that the QDDR is as aggressive as previous efforts we have complained about that want to merge Defense, Diplomacy, and Development. Fortunately this alarming militarization of development only covers actual or potential Failed States which according to the above Map in the QDDR is the entire developing world.

The review recognizes that US suffers from “insufficient internal coordination”of existing officials, offices and bureaus and so proposes to…create new officials, offices, and bureaus: Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; a new Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environmental Affairs; a Special Coordinator for Sanctions and Illicit Finance; a Bureau of International Energy Affairs.

The QDDR is very persuasive that the US government needs to set priorities, that it should focus on development issues where the US government has a comparative advantage, which turn out to be…all development issues: sustainable economic growth, democracy and governance, food security, global health, climate change, and humanitarian assistance.

We could go on, but let’s mercifully draw this discussion to a close, and move on to something more useful, like trying to think of an iPod playlist of songs most relevant to development.

This entry was posted in Aid policies and approaches, Grand plans and aid targets, Maps, Military aid. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Jason Kerwin wrote:

    Track 1 has to be “No Woman No Cry”, right?

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 3:03 am | Permalink
  2. Jeff wrote:

    Please do go on. A little more snarkiness might make people in State realize how silly this is. Try “Driven to Tears” by the Police for your playlist.

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  3. Karis wrote:

    Make sure you put Bono and the boys on that iPod playlist.

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  4. RJS wrote:

    On the first issue you are overreacting. I read the same brief you did and didn’t take from it that the QDDR is trying accelerate the “militarization of development,” the rightness or wrongness of which is more of a philosophical than most people suppose, and one in which the data can no doubt be made to go either way. Rather, the QDDR seeks to give more of a voice and operational responsibility to USG agencies with greater experience and knowledge of development vis-à-vis the USM. I don’t see how that is aggressive militarization, but rather, a corrective balancing between the “3Ds,” and something most development practitioners woudl support.

    On the second issue, a new office in the org chart doesn’t mean there will be a negative effect on coordination, especially if it incorporates underneath it disbursed organizations and can enforce working together and playing nicely. Weak causality on that one. Don’t be snarky for snarkiness’ sake.

    Last point is a good one. You’re right. I’d be interested in hearing from you WHAT specifically the US has a comparative advantage in. I agree that we try to do too much and think we’re responsible for everything and that every little issue is a national security or humanitarian issue in which the US must intervene. Part of this, of course, is the fault of development/aid industry lobbyists (though they might like to be called “advocates”) who have financial and other incentives to make mountains out of mole hills.


    RJS’ latest post @ D3 Blog: The GOP Landslide and Aid to Africa

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  5. RJS wrote:

    Sorry, “negative affect on coordination . . . “

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  6. Ash wrote:

    I just love that Spain and Italy don’t seem to be considered quite as stable as the rest of Europe (quite impressive that the French are given top marks for stability though, all things considered). And that Brazil is a borderline failed state.

    I think some of the people in these countries might have a bit to say about the classification of the US as in the ‘most stable’ category.

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  7. Raphael wrote:

    Development is not supposed to be the exercise of “civilian power.” Diplomats seek to advance US interests, development experts seek to decrease poverty and increase wellbeing (defined/measured in multiple ways). These goals can often be at odds, and this QDDR seems to privilage the exercise of power over the reduction of poverty. I looked through the PowerPoint and I don’t even see the word poverty.

    Btw, there are some development issues missing from the list. Mainly education.

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  8. Ted wrote:

    It never ceases to amaze me that we continue to belief that we are so skilled that we could centrally plan another nations economy and society to generate such great sucesses. Even setting aside whether we have the technical knowledge to impose “sustainable growth” or “global health” in another country – think of just how logistically infeasible such a venture would be.

    Someone really needs to send a list of question to the state department and they should read:

    1) Can you name one country where U.S. development intervention has been a substantial source of sustained economic growth?

    2) Can you name one country where U.S. development intervention has led to a stable, well-functioning Democracy in the long-run – especially since we are doing such a bang-up job centrally planning a government in Afghanistan (and I’m not at all convinced Iraq will be a stable democracy once we stop propping it up with our armed forces)? Oh, I think we also appropriate aid to dictators to vote-buy in sham elections, how is that promoting effective governance and democracy again?

    3) Can you name a single country where U.S. development intervention has brought “food security”? Especially considering we actively harm food security in developing countries by our use of big agra farm subsidies and absurd food aid policies.

    4) Can you name a single country where U.S. development intervention has brought about “health” on any substantial magnitude? Many vaccinations programs have been successful, but I would never qualify any of the countries as having reached “health” – especially considering the amount of money and time we have spent over these last decades.

    5) Can you name a single country where U.S. development intervention has successfully mitigated climate change? In fact, if I remember correctly, hasn’t the U.S. failed to pass some type of carbon tax to alleviate our own concerns about climate change – yet we have the arrogance to claim we can help other countries?

    The state department would be forced to answer “no” five times. Why is it so difficult to believe that we either don’t know how to achieve these things or we don’t know how to implement our knowledge effectively to assist developing countries?

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  9. David Zetland wrote:

    1) Shut down USAID
    2) Stop supporting non-democracies.
    3) That includes “democracies” that discriminate against minorities (India, Israel, et al.)
    4) Stop invading countries.

    1-4: save $, make the US safer, increase development.

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  10. Vivek Nemana wrote:

    I wonder, is Japan considered a US “development success?”

    Posted November 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  11. Scott wrote:

    A special office for sanctions and illicit finance is a terrific idea.

    Posted November 23, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink
  12. Chris wrote:

    Slide 13 of 26 (“Reforming Development to Deliver Results”) is my favorite: DRC is still labelled Zaire. Glad to see that everybody got the memo.

    Posted November 23, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  13. Patrick Cronin wrote:

    Snarky comments can be amusing, but I certainly hope graduate students do not confuse sniping from the outside as serious assessment. For those of us who have read the entire QDDR in its current draft, it is a useful first stab at examining the capabilities of State and USAID and how to improve them. I would further implore them to labor through the more than 150-page document to evaluate both its strengths and weaknesses; they will be able to do so in about three weeks’ time.

    Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

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