The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

12 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS-PLUS I reflected with great interest on Chris Milligan’s article, “USAID Transforms,” in the December 2019 edition of the Journal . It is hearten- ing to hear that the agency continues to reform to keep up with the times, and I presume that the changes in structure are substantive and not mere movements on the administrative tableau. But I have two comments. What About the Overlap? First, in addition to USAID, U.S. eco- nomic assistance relations with develop- ing countries are the prime responsibility of four other agencies—namely, the Peace Corps, the MillenniumChallenge Corpo- ration, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, formerly the Over- seas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Also, major departments of govern- ment—such as State, Treasury, Justice, Agriculture and others—have assistance spigots in their areas of competence. Many of the USAID reforms Mr. Mil- The Purposes and Use of Foreign Economic Assistance writes that “the purpose of foreign assis- tance should be to end the need for its existence. All of our reforms are designed to accelerate development progress and work toward the day when partner coun- tries can finance and implement solutions to their own development challenges.” In my view and long experience, this statement is too narrow. True, the prime purpose of foreign assistance is to foster economic and social development. In practice, however, that is far from the only purpose. Under every administration, USAID has been and continues to be a soft foreign policy tool with an array of purposes. It is a flexible instrument, never used solely for development—no matter howmuch purists wish it were so. The additional purposes of USAID’s work over the years and today are legion. Many, of course, are closely related to development, but some are only tangen- tially related and others are not related at all. Here are some examples of other purposes: to reduce civil strife and create stability, including in failed states; to sup- ply humanitarian assistance to the world’s numerous refugees inside and outside camps, and to assist victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earth- quakes; and to promote countries’ transi- tions to democracy and free markets, as was so important with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Still other purposes are to support friends and allies, even authoritarians if necessary, such as South Korea’s Park Chung-hee and Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko yesterday and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi today; to spread influence and help counter the influ- ence of adversaries, as in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea right now; and to uphold integral parts of treaties—for example, assistance to Israel and Egypt under the Camp David Accords. BY RAYMOND MALLEY ligan mentions affect and overlap with the work of these other agencies. Some examples: USAID and MCC often support development projects in the same country; all agen- cies stress private-sector and free-market-based approaches where possible; MCC and DFC, in addition to USAID, seek to co-finance with the private sec- tor; the State Department also has major programs in health and humanitarian activities; and State, USAID and Treasury manage relations with the various multi- lateral development institutions. I assume that USAID took into account and discussed with these agencies how the reforms relate to and affect their responsibilities and operations, and that there are no problems in this regard. But, surprisingly, there is no mention of other agencies in the article. The Question of Purpose My second comment relates to the pur- poses of foreign assistance. Mr. Milligan RESPONSE TO DEC. 2019 FSJ COVER STORY ON USAID TRANSFORMATION Raymond Malley, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer, had a long and varied career with USAID and State. He negotiated and managed develop- ment and security projects in many countries, including Korea, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Congo/Kinshasa; was U.S. representative to OECD’s Development Assistance Committee; and was USAID’s contact with U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and Treasury. He also briefly headed the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Later, he was a senior executive with the global Korean manufacturing group Hyun Dai/Halla. He lectures, writes and teaches at Dartmouth’s lifelong learning program. He and his wife live in Hanover, New Hampshire, and McLean, Virginia.