Can American humanitarian aid be used in defense against new national security threats? U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew S. Natsios made a powerful affirmative case at an April speech at the Institute of World Politics.
Long criticized for having strayed far from its mission as a tool of statecraft, USAID is taking a new direction under Mr. Natsios’ leadership. A retired U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel and Gulf War veteran, Mr. Natsios, pictured at left, sees the effective allocation of humanitarian aid and development assistance as a national imperative.
He worked closely with the State Department, the Pentagon, and the National Security Council to help craft President George W. Bush’s National Security Strategy of the United States. In that document, issued in 2002, international development for the first time joined diplomacy and military might as a pillar of American national security. Mr. Natsios told IWP that he is altering the status quo by redirecting aid from inefficient and often corrupt and unaccountalbe regimes and organizations to places and situations that directly benefit the national interest.
“Foreign assistance will be a key instrument of foreign policy in the coming decades,” Mr. Natsios said in an overview of his strategy. He focused on six areas: promoting democratic governance, driving economic growth, improving people’s health, mitigating conflict, providing humanitarian aid, and accounting for private foreign aid.