4 comments on “The Civ-Mil Debate

  1. Foreign aid reform is one way to address this concern. US foreign assistance has not seen significant reform since 1961. The Clinton Administration tried to undertake reform in the early 90s, but they were met with intense resistance in Congress. Chairman Howard Berman and Chairman John Kerry are both working hard to move forward significant reform of how the United States delivers its foreign aid. One of the issues they are working to address is the increase of military and State Department involvement in development. I heard a story from Ethiopia that illustrates this point well. Recently, the US Army and the US Agency for International Development were both working in that country to support security and development initiatives. The US Army had the staff capacity and funding to build a water well in a local community. Unfortunately, the well was built, but never used by the local community. Why? They believed the well was poisoned, because it was built by US military. Let’s imagine what this situation would look like if the money and resources were channeled through USAID. USAID staff are trained to empower and involve the local community in their development work. If the well was built by USAID, they would’ve gained the trust of the community. This illustrates our need for foreign aid reform – we need to change the methods of delivering and administrating aid.

    Check out a network of groups who are working toward this objective:


    • Holly- thanks for your thoughtful and engaging reply. A great example of the difference that identity (perceived or otherwise) can make in the success or failure of international development work.

  2. Pingback: Haiti – a learning curve indeed. « logic_and_imagination

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