• Defense Department,  Development,  State Building,  State Department

    Civilian Response Corps: Smart Power in Action

    The Civilian Response Corps has a website: http://www.civilianresponsecorps.gov/. From the about page: The Civilian Response Corps is a group of civilian federal employees who are specially trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict. The Corps leverages the diverse talents, expertise, and technical skills of members from nine federal departments and agencies for conflict prevention and stabilization. We are diplomats, development specialists, public health officials, law enforcement and corrections officers, engineers, economists, lawyers and others who help fragile states restore stability and rule of law and achieve economic recovery as quickly as possible. Visit the site and check…

  • Defense Department,  Development,  State Building,  State Department

    Revisiting the Civilian Response Corps

    The Small Wars Journal recently published a paper from Mike Clauser, a friend who was until recently on the staff of Rep. Mac Thornberry, Republican from Texas (no, his departure was unrelated to the paper). The paper, entitled “Not Just a Job, an Adventure: Drafting the U.S. Civil Service for Counterinsurgencies,” is an interesting recommendation to fill the empty billets of the Civilian Response Corps. In 2007 and 2008, I wrote several posts on the Reserve Corps concept and on the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), including one for Small Wars Journal entitled “In-sourcing Stabilization and Reconstruction” (and posted on MountainRunner here). I also…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Development,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Counterinsurgency Today: A Review of Eric T. Olson’s “Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot”

    By Efe Sevin The long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to increased inquiry into the concepts and practices of counterinsurgency (COIN). Eric T. Olson, in his work, focuses on the importance of reconstruction attempts in COIN operations and discusses the role of military. The author served in the U.S. Army for over three decades and retired as a Major General. Currently, Mr. Olson is an independent defense contractor and works with Army brigades and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) who are preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the title suggests, his monograph considers such reconstruction attempts to have uttermost importance in successful military operations.

  • Development,  Public Diplomacy

    Does everyone hate USAID?

    Does everyone hate the United States Agency for International Development? No, but Elizabeth Cutler, writing at the Stimson Center’s Budget Insight blog, says dysfunction at USAID would probably result from such hate if it existed. A myriad of factors, including lack of support and directly from Congress and the White House and continuing debate over the the utility and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, continue to hold back the ability, efficiency, and ultimately the impact of USAID and the rest of development programming. Policymakers have conflicting views about U.S. foreign assistance.  Questions persist, including:  How much does foreign assistance actually accomplish? Should foreign aid goals always align with U.S. national…

  • Africa,  China,  Development,  Public Diplomacy

    Aljazeera: tsunami of Chinese commerce is sparking tension and even violence in some parts of Africa

    Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the “onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.” This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. As Huffman notes, Although there is communication between the two sides at a certain level, it is rather limited. Despite various differences in language, culture, and work ethics, the Chinese are not making enough of an effort to integrate into Senegalese society. Although the Chinese businesses have brought some benefits to the local low-income…

  • Development,  Events,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    Event: Conversations with America: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals

    Today, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will hold a conversation with David Lane, President and CEO of ONE, on global development opportunities and challenges on the eve of the Millennium Development Goals summit. The discussion will be moderated by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley and streamed live on www.state.gov and DipNote, the Department of State’s official blog, at 10:15 a.m. on September 16, 2010. (EDT). Members of the general public will have the opportunity to participate through the submission of questions, some of which will be selected for response during the live broadcast. For more information about the U.S. government’s strategy for achieving the Millennium…

  • Development

    USAID gets a policy shop

    According to Mike Allen at Politico: A top official e-mails: “Stan McChrystal’s exit from Afghanistan not only affects military personnel, but is an opportunity for the civilian side of the equation — which has not gotten nearly the credit it deserves for its many successes on the ground, despite of the shenanigans at the top of the Kabul food chain — to shift around some. USAID Administrator Raj Shah is ramping up his in-house expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan with the additions of Alex Thier, Kay McGowan and Craig Mullaney. Thier, who is widely recognized as a leading thinker on Afghanistan policy, comes from [the United States Institute of Peace]…

  • Development,  Public Diplomacy

    Aid: The Double-Edged Blade

    By Simon Anholt Foreign aid, in many ways, gives with one hand while it takes away with the other. I have often commented in the past about the unintended damage done to the international standing and, consequently, the long term prospects of poorer countries by well-intentioned charity promotion, and in particular the negative ‘branding’ of Africa by aid celebrities like Geldof and Bono. Over the decades, with the best intentions in the world, their relentless depiction of Africa as one single, hopeless basket-case has harmed the long-term development prospects of the whole continent even as it has boosted donations. After all, while many people would happily donate money to a…

  • Development

    Toilet is the new mobile phone

    From the letters to the editor in the 7 June 2010 edition of the Financial Times: Sir, As you report, “Today, more Africans have phones than toilets” (“Attitudes change to business in region”, June 4). Entrepreneurs throughout the continent have also noticed this strange truth. In some countries, a toilet is the new mobile phone – something that shows that you’ve made it. Businesses are responding to growing demand by enduring improved supply, better customer service and lower prices. The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council is encouraging this trend. The Water and Sanitation Program, hosted by the World Bank, estimates that every dollar spent on sanitation and drinking water…

  • Congress,  Development

    Lynne Weil goes to USAID

    One of public diplomacy’s best friends on the Hill, Lynne Weil, is going to USAID. Al Kamen writes about this move: The beleaguered Agency of International Development is awaiting the arrival of some assistant administrators to give the new boss, Rajiv Shah, some help in restoring the dysfunctional shop to at least some semblance of robust health (he is a doctor, after all). … Now comes word that he’s tapped veteran Hill foreign policy insider and media maven Lynne Weil to shore up the AID press shop as its director and to be the agency spokeswoman. Weil, who spent 15 years as a reporter, much of that time overseas, has…