Can the U.S. Afford Foreign Assistance in an Age of Austerity?
By Jim Kolbe (The German Marshall Fund of the United States)
I want to talk to you about the future of our foreign assistance program. I make these remarks at a moment we face a major turning point in U.S. foreign policy. The old geopolitical and economic order is rearranging itself, and we are ill-suited to meet these changes.
When I started my career in Congress some 26 years ago, we lived in a bi-polar world dominated by two opposing powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. A bi-polar world was relatively simple. The USSR was dangerous, and the threat of miscalculation and nuclear war was a constant in our lives. Paradoxically, the challenges of that era were more conventional and predictable—maintain the status quo, don’t upset the equilibrium, keep the super powers at arm’s length. Today, the old international order is undergoing a fundamental transformation, bringing forth a multi-polar world fraught with unanticipated challenges and threats coming from every corner of the globe.