Despite my extreme frustration with the Stanford housing process this summer, I am now realizing just how fortunate I was to land in a dorm on the central campus, with an awesome roommate (who has an awesome Jamaican accent to boot!), and with a theme revolving around global citizenship. The consequence? I happened upon a poster this morning by the watering hole (the bathroom) advertising a talk by Jeremy Weinstein… and just showed up, to a casual Q&A with one of the most lucid political thinkers I have ever heard.
A few thoughts:
-Washington makes people sound proud of the U.S. to the point of sounding elitist. However, this might just be the political scientist coming out. Stephen Krasner was certainly the same way in lecture, but then again, he was in Washington for even longer.
-I was surprised by how biased Weinstein was toward the White House vs. the State Department. In highlighting the shift in foreign aid responsibility from the White House to the State Dept., he essentially stated that the State Dept. is less capable of insulating foreign aid policy from foreign policy than the White House…which seems counterintuitive when the president’s main job is to watch out for US interests above all.
-I was not surprised to hear that US foreign aid and its associated bodies are largely ineffecient and ineffective. I was, however, surprised to hear Weinstein say that DFID is the best international aid agency (with the justification that it is not tied to the UK’s foreign service), and moreover that the MDC in the US is our best development body. Development in Weinstein’s sense seems more like mere charity, rather than as investment for large-scale, long-term growth… Is this the view of a jaded American political advisor, a naïve American, or of an academic who has watched too many aid darlings sparkle and then fade?