We’ve done all of this and more because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do. Development, including humanitarian assistance, is a stabilizing force in the world that increases our national security at home. And that is particularly necessary today as we’re experiencing the biggest humanitarian crisis in our lifetime. Michèle Fournoy, a CARE board member and former undersecretary of defense policy who now leads the Center for a New American Security, noted in an interview, “We’re experiencing the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. The bulk of the refugees are women and children ... If we don’t address their needs, they’ll become a lost generation of displaced and uneducated kids who are rootless ... who are less likely to succeed and more likely to become attracted to more extremist ideologies.” But when children are healthy and educated, empowered and strongly connected to their families and communities, when they are equipped with the tools and opportunities they need, their sights are fixed not on the negative forces around them, but on a promising future ahead of them. Writing in an op-ed they co- authored, a version of which ran in the Washington Post, Flournoy and Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pinpointed an alarming lesson learned from the 9-11 terrorist attacks: “...that impoverished, poorly governed nations — even in the most remote corners of the world like Afghanistan — can serve as staging grounds for terrorist attacks on America and our allies. So not only do we have a humanitarian interest in the plight of citizens of these nations, we also have a real security interest.” We can apply the same lesson to long-term development.
“You need hard power for short-term tactical gains ... But longterm it’s education... it’s access to drinking water... it’s nutrition.... It is the ability to find employment. Those kinds of long-game objectives are the ones that create lasting security.”
And we’ve seen as much in our own work around the world. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, a U.S. government-funded program called Tufaidike Wote is building peace in that volatile country, directly by engaging the community in the peace process, but also indirectly through greater access to farm land, credit, more nutritious food and income-generating opportunities.Swahili for “Working Together for the Common Good,” Tufaidike Wote has reached more than 70,000 people by yielding four new health clinics, one maternity ward, two surgery rooms, three water points, four schools and five town halls.