Clinton Sees Smart Power in Smart Development

In her highly-anticipated confirmation hearings to be selected as the next Secretary of State yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton articulated a bold and comprehensive vision of U.S. foreign policy for the Obama Administration. Perhaps none of her ambitions were more striking than the breadth and depth of her commitments to development as a pillar of foreign policy along with defense and diplomacy. Her testimony marks a heightened focus on development not only as an effective means to advance U.S. foreign policy and to improve America's image in the world, but also as a critical goal in and of itself.

Echoing George Marshall, Clinton spoke of her vision of foreign policy as a tool that can and should do more than address ongoing conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an ever shrinking world, foreign policy must also confront a new breed of challenges such as global poverty and disease and Clinton's remarks demonstrate an understanding of what such an engagement would require. First, she highlights the comprehensive and interconnected needs involved in truly addressing development. In echoing Obama's own agenda, she referenced that development would encompass, amongst other things, "... eliminating the global education deficit; enhancing US leadership in the effort to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB and improving global health infrastructure; providing sustainable debt relief to developing countries; expanding prosperity through training, partnerships and expanded opportunities for small and medium enterprise; supporting developing countries in adapting to the challenges of a changing climate...." In short, she acknowledges that true development requires a multifaceted and balanced approach as articulated in the internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals.

Second, she acknowledges that HOW the U.S. achieves these goals is as important as WHAT it focuses on. Her testimony proposes an approach that partners with nations to ensure that the U.S. isn't just "giving" foreign assistance but rather investing in these countries so that they can sustain their own poverty-alleviation efforts in the long-term. Lastly, she reiterated President-elect Obama's critical commitment to double foreign assistance. This will allow the U.S. to scale up efforts that are working and invest the time and effort to modernize the whole of U.S. development programs so that all elements of the investment made by the American people are working as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Senator Clinton's vision and leadership come at a critical time. America's foreign policy challenges are complicated and cross cutting. The world faces a series of conflicts, challenges to democracy, financial upheaval and humanitarian threats like the food crisis. But America is also at a point where it has tested and proven the potential of development to impact those challenges. Clinton's goal of making defense, diplomacy, and development the centerpiece of US foreign policy won't be easy, but if the new Administration follows through on the commitments that Hillary Clinton has made, a focal point for the Obama national security doctrine will be a robust, effective, innovative development program. Of course, ensuring the success of these development priorities will require working vigorously with Congress to enact funding and legislation. The true three pillared approach highlighted yesterday is the right mix to confront these challenging times. Hillary Clinton has shown she shares Obama's vision to make it a reality. We look forward to taking the first step with her.