Major impediments stand in the way of U.S. effectiveness when it comes to crisis prevention. The executive branch has at its disposal as many as 25 foreign aid tools that allow the United States to improve state capacity, help build institutions, support the rule of law, reduce poverty, and pursue other development goals. Yet they are dispersed across the executive branch, and no single agency or individual is in charge. Republicans and Democrats, along with multiple commissions—including the HELP Commission, which was mandated by Congress to review U.S. foreign aid—agree that U.S. foreign policy must give weight to defense, diplomacy, and development, but development remains the poor stepchild to defense and diplomacy. Finally, the proliferation of new funds and authorities in response to Iraq and Afghanistan has fostered the migration of what were traditionally civilian capabilities to the military.
The next administration should take deliberate steps to elevate development. It should ensure coherence across an executive branch that is availed of myriad funds, authorities, and programs that do not, as now configured, add up to a coherent goal.
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