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Toward Security for All: Development Assistance and Global Poverty

April 2002

Citation: ELR 10480

Author: James Gustave Speth

The historian Paul Kennedy has defined "grand strategy" as a commitment to a major result in international affairs, a commitment to be pursued flexibly but comprehensively and determinedly, until the end is realized. Grand strategy presumes that the ends are few; grand strategies address true strategic priorities. The grand strategies chosen by nations tend to define what those nations stand for in the world.

Should western nations have a grand strategy of promoting development in the poorer countries? Does the United States have such a strategy today, and is it pursuing it?

Writing in 1994, Kennedy and a fellow historian, Matthew Connelly, called attention to a key problem underlying the need for sustainable development—"unbalanced wealth and resources, unbalanced demographic trends, and the relationship between the two."1 These authors portrayed a chilling vision of "a world of two camps, North and South, separate and unequal." As they wrote then:

We are heading into the twenty-first century in a world consisting for the most part of a relatively small number of rich, satiated, demographically stagnant societies and a large number of poverty-stricken, resource-depleted nations whose populations are doubling every twenty-five years or less. The demographic imbalances are exacerbated by grotesque disparities in wealth between rich and poor countries.2

The author is Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

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