The United States has a unique position in the international development debate which makes it difficult to know whether to applaud or to criticise it. While it is the largest contributor of aid in absolute terms, it is the smallest contributor in relative terms, mainly because its economy is so much larger than any other.
The previous US administration, under the leadership of President Bush, did more than most of its predecessors to tackle international poverty, with a large increase in aid. President Obama has also re-committed the USA to helping others achieve the Millennium Development goals.
Despite the commitment by the President there are some concerns about whether Congress will approve such large contributions in the current era when budget deficits are becoming uncomfortably large. This means that the USA needs to be encouraged to fulfil its promises even in times when other issues closer to home dominate the agenda.