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USAID: Working With State and DOD on Counter Terrorism – and with Oliver North in Honduras

Elizabeth Kvitashvili’s USAID career took her from Afghanistan to Honduras to Russia. She led efforts to provide humanitarian assistance amidst crisis and vast human suffering. Along the way she encountered Oliver North in Central America and President Clinton at a chocolate factory in Russia. She also helped USAID determine its role in countering the spread of terrorism, drawing on USAID’s own experience and the insights of Department of Defense “thought leaders” including then-Lt. General David Petraeus, Major General James Mattis and Colonel H.H. McMaster.

Read Elizabeth Kvitashvili’s full oral history HERE.


Remembering Oliver North’s Visits to Honduras: “Throughout ’87 and ’88 we would frequently get visits from Oliver North . . . We would gather for these all hands meetings at the embassy cafeteria . . . in which he would exhort us to support the policy of beating back communism and support the contras to free the people of Nicaragua etc. You would have the embassy people up front kind of cheering him on. You would have this group of AID officers, I won’t say booing and hissing but it was clear there was a divide between the AID people and the Embassy listening to Ollie North. I remember the [USAID] Mission’s running joke was we were not going to build “tank” roads. We were willing to build roads to support local transport and local needs but not roads that would support tanks and other military equipment across the border with Nicaragua.”
USAID, State and DOD begin to grapple with the challenge of counter terrorism: “The issue

of programming against counter terrorism and insurgency had become front burner issues already by 2004. Somalia had exploded once again, we had the Iraq insurgency and the Sahel was growing increasingly unstable. Violence in Afghanistan exploded. In discussions within the interagency between State, DOD and the intelligence community it was clear we were not dealing with simple conflict, but in some cases terrorism and increasingly insurgency which required different analytical and programming tools and approaches. Generals David Petraeus and James Mattis and a cadre of their top officers including H.R. McMaster, were the thought leaders in DOD highlighting these new challenges requiring new approaches.”
Drafted by: Tyler Ventura