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When American know-how, American dollars and American values are put to work, they change people’s lives, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently in a major speech. And that is why development will play a role equal to diplomacy and defense in U.S. foreign policy.
Today, development is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative – as central to advancing American interests and solving global problems as diplomacy and defense, said Secretary Clinton:
"The United States seeks a safer, more prosperous, more democratic and more equitable world. We cannot reach that goal when one-third of humankind live in conditions that offer them little chance of building better lives for themselves or their children. We cannot stop terrorism or defeat the ideologies of violent extremism when hundreds of millions of young people see a future with no jobs, no hope, and no way ever to catch up to the developed world. ... And we cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make those rights real."
But the new strategy demands a new mind-set. To ensure that development delivers lasting results, the Obama administration has already begun to make some changes. First, instead of dictating solutions from afar, the U.S. will work in partnership with developing countries. But those countries must share the responsibility by practicing good governance, fighting corruption, and contributing financially to their own development.
The new U.S. policy will also focus more investment on women and girls, who are critical to advancing social, economic, and political progress.
Improved coordination between agencies involved in development; targeted investment in development; and emphasis on innovation, along with a full integration of development with defense and diplomacy in the field, are some of the changes already being made to facilitate the new strategy in U.S. foreign policy.
"Development work is never easy, but it is essential," said Secretary of State Clinton. "So we have an opportunity now in the 21st century ... to give to every child the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential, and to help create a world that is more equitable, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful."