A presidential memorandum signed Saturday by U.S. President Donald Trump may shed some light on what role development is likely to play in his administration.
While the memorandum has drawn significant attention for the permanent inclusion of one of Trump’s top aides, Stephen Bannon — and the exclusion from the permanent group of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — it does include a role on a lower committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The USAID administrator is listed as a permanent member of the Deputies Committee in the memorandum about the organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
The Deputies Committee is a “senior sub-Cabinet interagency forum for the consideration of, and where appropriate, decision-making on, policy issues that affect the national security interests of the United States,” according to the memorandum.
What’s unique about this inclusion is that neither former President Barack Obama nor former President George W. Bush mentioned USAID in their directives about the National Security Council. In Bush’s directive, even the NSC Policy Coordination Committee responsible for international development and humanitarian assistance was designated to be headed by the secretary of state.
It wasn’t until Obama’s presidential policy directive in September 2010, PPD 6 — which outlined his views about the role of development in U.S. foreign policy — that he directed that the USAID administrator be included in meetings of the National Security Council, when it was deemed appropriate.
During Obama’s administration, development secured an elevated role in foreign policy, but it remains to be seen if that trend will continue under Trump — especially in light of other actions, including the leaked executive order pointing to dramatic cuts at the United Nations.