• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • China,  Psychological Struggle

    The Disappearance of China Air

    To be completely crass, disaster relief and humanitarian aid is huge opportunity to score points with locals. It is, however, best when it is not done blatantly, but making it clear where the aid was coming from both gives your side points and potentially denies opportunities to competitors. Reading The New York Times on my Blackberry Thursday morning, the article “Haiti Lies in Ruins; Grim Search for Untold Dead” by Simon Romero and Marc Lacey, dated January 14, 2010, struck a nerve. These are the first two paragraphs as they still read on my Blackberry: PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Foreign aid trickled into Haiti’s devastated capital on Thursday morning as the…