Small Wars Journal

A Foreign Assistance Philosophy for an Era of Limited Resources

A Foreign Assistance Philosophy for an Era of Limited Resources by Carol Morello - Washington Post

The blown-up photograph in Mark Green’s office, still waiting to be hung, symbolizes everything the new administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development believes foreign development aid should strive for.

Taken almost a decade ago, when Green was U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, it shows a beaming woman with arms upraised. In her hand she clutches a certificate of recognition for finishing a U.S.-funded training course on how taxpayers can agitate for responsive local budgets. She had accepted it on bended knee, then leaped to her feet and screamed in joy.

“It dawned on me that she had never been empowered before,” said Green, who has kept the photo ever since. “This was the first time anyone had asked for her opinion. That summarizes my philosophy on development aid. We want to help people like this great lady do for themselves. She startled me and blew me away, and I realized I had learned more from her in that moment than a lot of other things.”

How much of a role the United States will maintain in programs such as the one in Tanzania is now largely in Green’s hands. The former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, who most recently headed the International Republican Institute, started work Monday as USAID administrator.

Green arrives as the Trump administration proposes lopping off almost a third of the budget of the State Department and almost 40 percent from USAID, a $10 billion cut, to $15.4 billion. Though Congress will probably not go along with such deep reductions, USAID’s funding level is almost certain to drop. And some in the White House question whether the agency should be merged into the State Department, even though they have different purposes.

Across the ideological spectrum, a lot of hopes are riding on Green’s shoulders. Aid organizations are relieved to have someone at the table who understands the purpose of foreign aid. Budget hawks are pleased to see the aid watched over by someone who demands results and efficiency. Green, who has worked in development aid for three decades, has a reputation for both…

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