In a world transformed by globalization and challenged by terrorism, foreign aid has assumed renewed importance as a foreign policy tool. Having hard security assets stretched thin has made it more important than ever for the United States to leverage its considerable soft power abroad to more effectively grapple with global poverty, pandemics, and transnational threats, which can only be done with infrastructure reform. Yet, while U.S. spending on foreign assistance has seen its greatest increase in forty years, this expansion in aid has brought with it a growing incoherence in policy and a fragmentation in organization.
On June 22, members of the bipartisan Brookings-CSIS Task Force on Transforming Foreign Assistance in the 21st Century gathered at Brookings to release new recommendations to address the challenges and opportunities associated with foreign aid transformation. Over the past 12 months, the bipartisan group has worked to forge a consensus on the best practices in foreign assistance policymaking. Their work, is released under the title Security by Other Means: Foreign Assistance, Global Poverty, and American Leadership, will chart the way toward greater effectiveness, cohesion, and accountability in foreign aid. Lael Brainard, vice president and director of Global Economy and Development and co-director, Brookings-CSIS Task Force, provided introductory remarks and moderated the session.