Friday, July 25, 2008

The Critical Link Between Development Aid and National Security

The Millennium Challenge Corporation along with the Center for Strategic and International Studies sponsored three diverse panelists to convey their opinions regarding "the critical link between development aid and national security.” These panelists included Dr. Stephen Brent, chair of the Department of Economics at the National Defense University, Jennifer Cooke, co-director of the Africa Program at CSIS, and Sherri Kraham, Deputy Vice President at MCC.

All three panelists agreed that development is the future of national security. However, each had their own opinions on ways to pursue development. According to Dr. Brent, the best option the US has is to increase United States Agency for International Development employees. Brent reminded us that at the time of the Vietnam war, and at its creation, USAID had more than 11,000 employees,7,000 of which were placed in Vietnam. Currently the USAID has a little over 1,000 employees spread out in dozens of countries. An ideal outcome, according to Dr. Brent, would be for Congress to fund the restoration of USAID. Moreover, Dr. Brent stressed the need for the development and military departments to re-unite their efforts, rather than work against each other (a phenomenon that began following the Cold War).

CSIS representative Jennifer Cooke agreed with Dr. Brent, stating that the government needs to be a united front. Yet, Cooke believes it will take more than the restoration of USAID to achieve national security. Cooke is a strong believer in the 3 legged approach to national security, stressing the need for defense, diplomacy, and development in order to reach an acceptable level of national security. Cooke also stressed that many of the current failed states, specifically in Africa, are due to lack of governance, not lack of diplomacy or defense. From her view, the next step should be peacekeeping training in Africa, so that regions become self-sustaining.

Sherri Kraham, Deputy VP of MCC, offered a completely different perspective. MCC, as an organization, financially supports the development of democratic governments who meet criteria that categorizes them as "on the brink of security". MCC does not address the issues of failed or fragile states. According to Kraham, they feel they support the defense, diplomacy and development through multiplying and encouraging democratic states. Thus completely avoiding the issue of military training.

While all three representatives provided key aspects of national security, they are incomplete without each other. This is a fundamental point that all three panelists failed to mention. In the end, if MCC continues on its path, and the key points that Dr. Brent and Cooke stressed, then achieving national security is in fact, just around the corner.

Sponsors: Millennium Challenge Corporation
Center For Strategic and International Studies
Date: 7/21/08
Representative: Daria Willis

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