November 27, 2002
New Strings Attached for the 3rd World
In a White House press briefing yesterday, Ari Fleischer announced the creation of the Millenium Challenge Corporation, a new government agency to administer the billions of additional funds that the Bush administration is now ear-marking for developing countries. The catch, of course, is that these countries are now going to compete for the money based on a score card that includes things like cleaning up corruption, commitment to democracy, "sound fiscal policy", etc.
So, there are several odd things about this: Why a new agency, when there is already one in existence that does this (the U.S. Agency for International Development)? And since when are government agencies called "corporations"? If none of the countries in a given year meet the criteria established by the corporation, what happens to the aid money ear-marked for that year? And, even more disturbing, why did I have to go to some off-brand news agency like this to get any kind of an in-depth article (not even the BBC covered this)? On the flip side, here's an editorial that suggests that, on the whole, this is a step in the right direction for the U.S. I'll remain cautiously optimistic.