National Security Strategy Highlights Obama's Development Priorities

    Afghans hold up brochures of the formal justice system awareness campaign by USAID. Capacity building in Afghanistan is among the plans outlined in the National Security Strategy. Photo by: USAID Afghanistan

    The U.S. National Security Strategy released May 27 by the Obama administration includes plans to deepen U.S. civilian engagement in Iraq and Pakistan, help build the capacity of the Afghan government, pursue governance reforms in international financial institutions, and address a variety of global issues including climate change, hunger, health and humanitarian crises.

    Mideast countries

    The strategy recognizes the importance of U.S. engagement in Middle Eastern countries to U.S. national security.

    In addition to a slew of military approaches, U.S. aid to Afghanistan will focus on building the capacity of the country to better govern itself and serve its people. The U.S. also seeks to target its assistance on agriculture, human rights and other areas with enduring impact on the lives of Afghan people.

    The U.S. is developing a strategic partnership with Pakistan that seeks increased cooperation between the two countries in a wide range of areas. The partnership aims to address security and civilian challenges in Pakistan, the strategy document says.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. is aiming for deeper and broader civilian engagement in Iraq.

    “We will sustain a capable political, diplomatic, and civilian effort to help the Iraqi people as they resolve outstanding differences, integrate those refugees and displaced persons who can return, and continue to develop accountable democratic institutions that can better serve their basic needs. We will work with our Iraqi partners to implement the Strategic Framework Agreement, with the Department of State taking the lead,” the document says.

    Target areas include political and diplomatic cooperation, rule of law, health, science, economics and education.

    IFI reforms

    Also as part of its security strategy, the U.S. will pursue “governance reforms” at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The U.S. also plans to broaden its leadership in other international financial institutions in order to enhance international capacity in preventing conflict, spurring security and addressing climate change, among others.

    Whole of government approach

    The national security strategy seeks improved coordination across U.S. agencies and departments under a whole of government approach. In pursuing this approach, the strategy aligns U.S. development operations to focus on helping developing countries manage security threats, reap the benefits of global economic expansion, promote democracy, and uphold human rights.

    The security strategy also includes pursuing a “development budget that more deliberately reflects our policies and our strategy, not sector earmarks; and ensuring that our policy instruments are aligned in support of development objectives.”

    Food security, health, humanitarian aid

    The national security strategy also highlights the U.S.’s commitment to promote food security and global health. The Obama administration has recently launched a six-year, USD63 billion Global Health Initiative and released the guiding document for its Feed the Future program, which seeks to address food security issues in the developing world through agriculture-led growth and improved nutrition.

    The strategy also commits the U.S. to continued leadership on efforts to address humanitarian crises, with a greater emphasis on fostering long-term recovery. Haiti, the strategy document says, is a recent reminder and exercise of how the U.S. needs to be better prepared to provide leadership during such crises.

    About the author

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      Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.