31 Jan Foreign Aid Debate
For his proposed 2018 budget, President Donald Trump categorically promulgated the slashing of U.S. foreign aid. Demanding deep cuts, he announced, “It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.”
The US foreign aid forms only 1 percent of the entire federal budget of the country, contrary to many American’s belief that it exceeds one-fourth of the whole budget. Money for the foreign aid is primarily poured in by the State Department and Department of Defense.
The Department of Defense (DoD) along with a slew of other agencies manage the part of security assistance provided to countries which mainly include Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Iraq. Other operations which include International Narcotics control and Trafficking are also financed by DoD. The economic assistance which includes projects related to health (HIV-AIDS relief), natural disasters, humanitarian crisis and the promotion of civil society are funded by the State Department, which is mainly allocated to USAID.
Coming under severe criticism for reducing the budget of foreign aid to its one third, President Trump seems to be treading on thin ice. On the one hand, the international support promotes economic growth and prosperity in the world’s poorest countries, and on the other hand, it is prodigiously spent in aggrandizing the stronghold of corrupt regimes in the same countries.
For instance, 7 of the 10 recipients of US foreign aid are the countries in Africa battling HIV aids, abject poverty, and civil wars. But this same aid has had little or no impact in improving the Gross National Income (GNI) of the same countries. This claim is substantiated by many economists across the world, with Zambian born economist going so far to assert that despite $1 trillion flowing in aid to Africa, the real per capita income on the continent has not increased since the 1970s.
The US has a more targeted approach when it comes to providing security assistance to countries which mainly involve Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Jordan. Afghanistan features as the primary recipient of the US security aid. The Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) as an individual, the non-bilateral program is the biggest beneficiary of this budget which aims to aid security forces of Afghanistan encompassing training services and facilities, equipment, infrastructure repair, and construction.
Financing of Israel’s military purchases by the US has come under heavy fire due to ongoing Palestinian-Israel conflict. Under a new arms agreement, Israel is stipulated to purchase the military equipment from American defense contractors only, from the money they receive in the form of assistance from the US. The same artillery acquired is then used to bolster Benjamin Netanyahu’s repressive regime in the Gaza-West Bank border.
US’ arms sale, as well as the economic assistance, places the country at the forefront when it comes to providing resources and allows it to control the global market. But at the same time, because of its ubiquitous presence on the global arena and the size of its sheer economy, it is found lacking when it comes to contributing regarding its Gross National Income. According to OECD statistics, US only contributes 0.17 percent of its GNI, which is below 0.3 percent benchmark set by the United Nations (UN) for the developed countries.
So, what do you make of President Trump’s remarks when it comes slashing US foreign aid? Should the US increase or decrease its spending on Foreign Aid?