September 24, 2016

Whatever happened to foreign aid and other alternatives to war?

Google graph of mentions of "foreign aid"

We are now winding down fifteen years of military policy failure in the Mid East and still hardly anyone in power discusses any alternatives. For example, as the Google Ngram chart above shows, In the wake of World War II, we helped struggling countries with foreign aid, a term one hardly hears any more. 

What if the huge sums spent on military failure in the Mid East had been used instead in foreign aid?  What effect would that have had on ISIS or the Orlando attack? 

A major part of of our foreign policy failure today is an inordinate reliance on military solutions that don't work. It's well past time to come up with other answers. 

For example, Deutsche Welle reported:
In a newly published report, the IMF said years of conflict have destroyed the economies of several countries in the Middle East. The organization said it could take years for countries to regain their footing.

The Washington-based lender said conflicts had sparked recessions, driven up inflation and rendered institutions powerless from Libya to Yemen.

Ongoing wars have seen Syria's GDP in 2015 account for less than half of what it did in 2010, while Yemen has lost as much as 35 percent of its GDP this year, the report said. In Iraq and Afghanistan, inflation reached more than 30 percent in the mid-2000s, while in Yemen and Libya it peaked at more than 15 percent in 2011.

In addition, conflicts have also had economic consequences for neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, leading to an influx of refugees and weaker security.
And as Andrew Bacevich wrote in the Nation last May:
Imagine the opposing candidates in a presidential campaign each refusing to accept war as the new normal. Imagine them actually taking stock of the broader fight that’s been ongoing for decades now. Imagine them offering alternatives to armed conflicts that just drag on and on. Now that would be a milestone. 


Anonymous said...

Saudi Arabia, that's what happened.

Anonymous said...

"we helped struggling countries with foreign aid, a term one hardly hears any more."

It's probably just as well that we don't hear it.

Foreign aid by the US has always been a joke.

For every dollar the US has given a country, they usually siphon off +-$10 from that country. Israel (the biggest recipient of US foreign aid) is an exception.

The siphoning is done by specifying in the "aid " package that the work to be done with the "aid" money (a small percentage of the total cost) be done by US contractors, which are paid by the recipient country in US dollars.

Chinese foreign aid, on the other hand, at least that I know of in the western hemisphere, is a genuine gift, with the work being done with Chinese materials and Chinese labor at no cost to the recipient country.

A much more sensible and equitable strategy for the US would be to mind its own business, stay at home, forget foreign "aid", and put its own citizens to work rebuilding its crumbling infrastructure.