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Join the Foreign Legion, I mean, Foreign Service.

Posted in united states, us politics by Karaka on 30 September 2009

For a day in which not a whole lot has really occurred, I feel startlingly tired, so we’ll keep this short and relevant. I remembered reading this last week, but I couldn’t recall where until today: Obama still hasn’t named a director for USAID.

In a letter to President Obama, first reported on by Congressional Quarterly, Senators John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, decry the vacancy at the top of USAID, noting it as the only major agency in the government without a captain at a time when American leadership in development around the world is more needed than ever … The senators also complained that USAID has been shut out of the interagency processes related to U.S. policy in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Their criticisms are echoed by the development community in Washington, which is nervously waiting for the Obama administration to make some key decisions about the role and stature for USAID and the development agenda going forward.

Now, to me that’s a pretty significant problem. Whatever review the administration has chosen to undergo following the delivery of Gates’ and McChrystal’s recommendations, USAID is a very important part of the nation’s larger foreign policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. (For the record, I hate the term Af-Pak; it reminds me of that stupid insurance commercial duck.) Since the request for $5bn in aid to Pakistan at Congress has just been approved, it seemed pretty flipping germane to get an administrator into the office right the sam-hill now.

USAID, of course, has other concerns than our war zones, and is not really all that concerned with the wars, either. But the importance of that department should not go unrecognized. It is a very, very bad call to leave that position open, after seven months in office


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