The other Clinton, on development strategies

Over at Foreign Policy, Bill Easterly comments on Hillary’s big development speech yesterday. His basic conclusion: mostly meandering babble, but it’s not her fault.

One bit I liked: his comparison of Clinton 2010 (paraphrased: “we need more aid coordination and  reform of aid institutions in Washington”) to Truman 1949 (“we need more aid coordination and  reform of aid institutions in Washington”).

I think you could find the same statement in almost every major Washington development speech of the last half century.

I’m really no politico, but let me tell you my gut on this: if you really wanted to waste your time the next two years you would start talking about reforming aid architecture.

Navel gazing is not a development strategy. Coordination is the impulse of bureaucrats.

What would I do? I would stop trying to export the Patriot Act and take the long view: use what levers we have to strengthen oppositions (even the ones we don’t like), encourage more institutional checks and balances in centralized governments (i.e. almost every developing nation), and foster medium and large firms in foreign places. I think those are good bets for long term peace, security and growth.

There you have it: two years of foreign policy and aid advice for free, based on approximately five minutes of reflection. You get what you pay for, folks.

(Note: in the unlikely event you have real power and read this blog, please disregard all advice you receive. Do not, I repeat, do not try this at home.)