Poverty, famine and disease overseas lead to lawlessness, instability, revolution and terrorism that threaten American interests, and Americans, at home and abroad. That's why our second most important means of self-defense after the military is foreign aid. Moreover, our investments in development pay off when poor countries become prosperous enough to become trading partners. To their credit, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton realize this, and repeatedly have said as much -- they just don't appear to be in a great hurry to put that philosophy into practice.
On Tuesday, after a 10-month delay that further rattled a demoralized staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Obama finally announced his nominee to head the agency. Dr. Rajiv Shah, currently an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a popular choice among aid experts, a medical doctor who, at 36, has a resume that would be highly impressive for a man twice his age. If he is confirmed, he will inherit an agency in transition, with a disappointing past and an uncertain future.