US Foreign aid is one of the most misunderstand functions of our federal government. Consuming less than 1% of the federal government budget, it has nonetheless played an outsized role in political debate. At the center of this controversy and misunderstanding has been the U.S. Agency for International Development, or AID, the government agency created during the Kennedy administration to administer America’s foreign assistance programs, an often-conflicted behemoth with a presence spanning the globe. In this book, journalist and foreign policy expert John Norris provides a compelling and rich story of AID, warts and all. There have been moments of enormous triumph: the eradication of smallpox, the Green Revolution, efforts to bring family planning to millions of women for the first time. There have also been florid, headline-grabbing failures in places like Vietnam and Iraq, missteps born out of ignorance and ethnocentrism, and money that flowed into the coffers of despots like President Mobutu in Zaire. In totality, the work of AID has touched millions and millions of lives in ways that have been truly profound, both good and bad. On the Eve of AID’s 60th anniversary, Norris shares history on an almost epic scale that remains largely untold.
John Norris has served in a variety of senior roles in government, international institutions, and nonprofits. In 2014, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Global Development Council, a body charged with advising the administration on effective development practices. Norris currently works at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Chapter 1: Tipping Points
Chapter 2: The Foot of the Mountain
Chapter 3: Larger than Life
Chapter 4: Crescendos
Chapter 5: The Devil’s Bargain
Chapter 6: The Carter Years
Chapter 7: The Reagan Years
Chapter 8: Uneasy Victories
Chapter 9: On the Precipice
Chapter 10: After the Towers
Chapter 11: Ambition Constrained
Chapter 12: Do as We Say, Not as We Do
Chapter 13: Conclusion
About the Author
John Norris has written a lively, compelling, and long-overdue history of AID and the foreign assistance program.This book is a must read for anyone who cares about development and America’s place in the world.
I wish I had this book when I was running AID.
This is a unique story, one that highlights American global leadership through the lens of its humanitarian impulse, its capacity for trustworthiness, its willingness to cooperate and its commitment to stay the course. Norris hasn’t sugarcoated the challenges of an agency working in the world’s poorest countries and whose purpose has been misunderstood or misconstrued by political opponents.