Monday, July 10, 2006

Can the National Security Strategy Protect the 150 Account?

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 12:30-2:00

Lael Brainard – VP and Director of Global Economy and Development Center at Brookings
Kent Butts – Director of the Center for Strategic Leadership at the US Army War College
C. Edward Dickens – Balkans Team Leader at USAID

Jason Gross (Moderator) – Managing director of the US Global Leadership Campaign

The 150 Account is the US International Affairs Budget from which America’s economic, diplomatic, and humanitarian initiatives abroad, including programs that cover a variety of US foreign and State Department activities crucial to US security, are funded. For the first time, the 2002 National Security Strategy included development along with diplomacy and defense as a third key pillar critical to US security. The event was a debate on the incorporation of this third aspect, development, in this latest National Security Strategy and how it can be implemented in order to protect and sustain development funding in the future and promote US national security.

Each panelist agreed that development is a vital tool to advance national security interests, but opinions varied on how development should be implemented. Lael Brainard was the first speaker and addressed the fact that financially speaking, development offers a more practical solution in that it prevents potentially threatening situations rather than the repercussions faced when having to “clean up” as a result of excluding development from foreign policy. She continued by stating that the problem we face with development is the tension that exists between an individual country’s needs and the US government’s agenda and that we must begin by dealing with what overlaps between the two rather than on other specific needs of each group.

C. Edward Dickens agreed with Brainard about the implications of the clean-up vs. prevention costs, while also embracing development as a vital part of national security. He went on to explain specific goals of development in the National Security Plan, which included rebuilding, developing, transforming (or democratizing), sustaining, and reforming countries. He also acknowledged the discrepancy in the allocation of funds amongst countries in the greatest need, which Brainard previously addressed, as he stated that the poorest countries have only received 10% of the funding.

Kent Butts stated what he believes are vital components of the adoption and implementation of development as a new part of the National Security Strategy highlighting the importance of establishing a well-funded development program that supports national security and promotes national interest. He, along with the other panelists, agreed that caution was to be taken in coordinating a strategy with which members of Congress and the American public would be aligned.

by Megan Shaw

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