Mountain View

CIS Hosts USAID Speaker on Foreign Development Assistance

The Honorable Martin "Marty" McVey, national board member of the Federal U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, provided an evening of insights into the critical role USAID development assistance programs play in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

McVey's lecture was one in the series of international "Issues Briefings" hosted by the Center for International Studies' Distinguished Diplomat Program.

McVey said USAID's foreign development assistance is a vital tool in building diplomatic relations and lasting friendships with developing countries in need.  Such use of soft power—economic assistance—over the longer term is more effective in most cases than hard power tools, such as military force or economic sanctions, he said.

The audience showed an intense interest in the topic, and the program ran over by almost 30 minutes with a prolonged question and answer session after the lecture.

During the enlightening and lively discussion, audience members challenged whether programs weren't just "giving away" dollars to corrupt governments.  McVey used the opportunity to highlight the heavy focus USAID now puts on establishing clear accountability of foreign governments; new standards and strict audits have largely ended the leakage of aid funds into corrupt hands, he said.

Moreover, McVey noted, the vast majority of development assistance funds return to the United States, to U.S. businesses and exporters. If USAID provides funds for farm implements such as tractors, for example, those funds return to John Deere or Caterpillar, or other U.S. companies.

The Center for International Studies will host career Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering for the2015 Distinguished Diplomat Lecture at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at La Colombe d'Or Ballroom, 3410 Montrose Blvd. He will address American foreign policy in light of Congressional mid-term election results and receive the Distinguished Diplomat Award from CIS.


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