The Three Ds of Hillary Clinton


On January 6, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an illuminating speech at the Center for Global Development (CGD) that spelled out her main policy prescriptions for international development to mixed reviews from the blogosphere.

In order to persuade the American public of the relevance of development, Clinton posits what William Easterly dubbed the “merger of the 3 Ds: development, diplomacy, and defense.” Easterly criticized the “3 Ds” as a contradictory ruse to appeal to the entire gamut of voters with strong opinions on foreign policy, from those who prioritize development, to diplomacy, to defense.

On the other hand, Nick Kristof praised her recognition of development as intricately tied to our security, citing the viability of education as a counterterrorism tactic.

Mike Smith of welcomed the idea of establishing development as a staple of US foreign policy, but given the Obama administration’s lukewarm track record vis à vis international development, he doubted its prompt implementation.

Sarah Jane Staats from CGD praised Clinton for bringing development to the forefront of policy; however, she criticized Clinton’s call for “selective and strategic” development initiatives, noting that the challenge remains in specifying what those actually are.

However, Kristof points out specific policy resolutions that are ideologically unassailable, such as forming more partnerships with local countries, increasing financial support for agricultural and health sectors, focusing developmental agenda on women and girls, and decreasing traditional aid by compensating with trade and investment.

In line with our main tenet, Clinton highlighted the central role of the private sector in development, and proffered the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, venture funds, and credit guarantees as possible mechanisms to “encourage private companies to develop and market products and services that improve the lives of the poor.” She even defended the US against criticism leveled at America’s low aid-to-GDP ratio, saying “private giving exceeds the amount our government spends on foreign assistance.”

Foreign Policy blogger Josh Rogin predicted an imminent clash between Clinton and Senate Foreign Relations chiefs John Kerry and Richard Lugar over the limits of USAID authority. The Committee wants to enable Shah and USAID to stand up against the State Department because it believes that a 3 D merger will inevitably overshadow development for the benefit of diplomacy and defense.


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