- By David BoscoDavid Bosco is a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
David Rieff is worried that the Gates Foundation is having an outsized influence on how governments, international organizations, and publics think about development challenges:
[A]mericans, like people everywhere in the rich world to a greater or lesser degree, are in love with quick fixes. As one relief officially put it to me recently, it is as if the rescue of the Chilean miners were a model for how we could ensure food security in sub-Saharan Africa or ensure livelihoods in Haiti. That is, the essence of what we have to do is simply find the right cutting-edge technologies and deploy sufficient money and bureaucratic energies to apply them; in short, that there is a technological fix on offer somewhere near, and that we are on the brink of uncovering it. It is this worldview that is at the heart of the approach both to global health and agricultural development that has been championed, and to an important degree underwritten, by the Gates Foundation, and which now informs the thinking of the major Western donor governments and of the United Nations system.
In Rieff’s view, the Gates Foundation promotes a fundamentally ahistorical and apolitical view of development and, in so doing, raises expectations about what resources and technical fixes can achieve to unsustainable levels. I’m curious about his claim that the Gates view has managed to thoroughly infiltrate the U.N. system. In other contexts, Rieff has been a savage and eloquent critic of the U.N.’s institutional worldview, which begs the question of whether the Gates philosophy is displacing anything Rieff considers valuable.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |