2010 June | UNA Greater Seattle Chapter

United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter

Global Development: The Emerging Obama National Security Doctrine

June 7th, 2010 by UNA Seattle

Often important policy developments get lost when the news media continuously shifts its focus to the latest disaster or political brouhaha. Anyone wanting to follow the Obama administration’s approach to national security and how it has changed from the Bush-era’s largely go-it-alone posture must dig behind the headlines and through sometimes long and tedious documents.

This year will see the issuance of four important U.S. government reports that taken as a whole will define the Obama national (and global) security doctrine and its focus on U.N. Millennium Development Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.

These reports are the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review Report (QDR), the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS), the (first-ever) State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), and the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD).

The QDR released in February, sheds a little light on how defense will be integrated into the 3D (diplomacy, development, and defense) approach to national security and global stability. It indicates a supportive role for the U.S. military:

Although the U.S. military can and should have the expertise and capacity to conduct these activities, civilian leadership of humanitarian assistance, development, and governance is essential.

The 2010 NSS, released in May, has much more to say about 3D. Secretary Clinton explained the new strategy and differences from previous NSSs in a speech to the Brookings Institute on May 27. Some excerpts:

“Democracy, human rights, development are mutually reinforcing and they are deeply connected to our national interests.”

“…I know from every bit of evidence we’ve ever done about the connection between development and democracy that women are the key to both, that changing conditions that enable women to attain more influence, more empowerment – through education, through health care, through jobs, through access to credit – literally changes the map of how people think about themselves, what they expect from their government. And we are going to continue to promote that as a very core interest of the United States.”

“We believe that if we’re going to be committed to development, we’re going to have to ask the American taxpayers to help pay for sending somebody else’s child to school or providing somebody else’s mother maternal healthcare, we’d better be able to show results.”

And the President’s National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones had this to say about the NSS and 3D:

“…going forward, there should be no doubt the United States of America will continue to underwrite global security. We will do so through our military advantage and we will do so through our wide-ranging commitments to allies, partners, and institutions. However, we must balance and integrate our military might with a whole-of-government approach. Our diplomacy and development capabilities must be modernized and our civilian expeditionary capacity strengthened to support the full breadth of our priorities.”

“…a detailed plan to use diplomacy, economic development, and engagement to build constructive relations to the Muslim world is an essential feature of our thinking.”

The last two documents have yet to be released, although a 7-page draft of the PSD surfaced on May 3. It addresses how development should involve all federal agencies. An excerpt:

The Obama Administration recognizes that development is essential to our security, prosperity, and values…Our investments in development…can facilitate the stabilization of countries emerging from conflict, address the poverty that is a common denominator in the myriad challenges we face, foster increased global growth, and reinforce the universal values we aim to advance.

Also of interest is how our relationship to the U.N. and other international bodies is being transformed. This will be discussed in a follow-up posting.

Of course, Congress will have much to say, and perhaps the last word, in shaping the U.S. approach to global development. On its agenda are foreign aid policy reform, foreign assistance budgets, and an energy policy that includes technical and financial aid to help developing nations adapt to climate change.


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