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5 Fascinating Effects of Foreign Aid on Politics

Here are five ways foreign aid impacts politics:

  1. It fights terrorism – With ISIS as a major concern and a possible threat to U.S. national security, it is important to come up with different solutions. While aid alone cannot defeat ISIS, it can certainly help. Terrorist organizations have an easier time growing and residing in areas that are impoverished or unstable. Therefore, in order to prevent ISIS from growing, one tactic could be to work on building infrastructure and lowering poverty in the areas directly surrounding ISIS.
  2. It helps the U.S. compete with international rivals – China has increasingly been using foreign aid to gain influence across the world. Specifically, China is targeting Latin America and Africa. The United States needs to increase its aid to those regions if the country wishes to maintain its influence. If it does not, China could easily overtake the United States. African and Latin American countries are not the only countries that currently rely heavily on China. Russia and Greece are two other countries that may soon be heavily reliant on China as well.
  3. It helps the U.S. gain international favor – Foreign aid can make the United States’ relations with other countries much easier. Every time aid from Washington helps a life across the world, there is potential for making one more person appreciate the United States. If Washington can gain the favor of a large number of people in impoverished countries, then the United States is well on its way to being loved by that country. One major example of this is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The Washington Post states that this program “has improved perceptions of the United States among the public in recipient countries.”
  4. It spreads democracy – One of USAID’s goals is democratization. One saying goes that democracies don’t go to war with democracies. USAID believes that “democratic governance and human rights are critical components of sustainable development and lasting peace.” Since the 1990s USAID has been working on spreading democracy and has so far been very successful. The reason for this success is largely due to foreign aid. According to a paper by the Munich Personal RePEc Archive, “both the Freedom House and Polity indexes indicate clear trends toward democratization over the 1975 to 2000 period.”
  5. It prevents future military conflicts – Cutting aid funding can hurt already fragile states economically. When countries are economically weak, it is easier for them to be manipulated by countries that may wish to harm the U.S. If these manipulations happen and escalate, they could lead to military conflicts in the future. According to interaction.org, “there is no doubt that foreign assistance helps ward off future military conflicts.

Unfortunately, in recent years, aid funding in the United States has decreased significantly, which is hard to believe when aid has so many positive effects on the United States’ politics and safety. Hopefully, in the coming years, politicians will turn this downward trend around in order to continue reaping these benefits.

Clare Holtzman

Sources: Forbes, InterAction, Munich Personal RePEc Archive, USAID, Washington Post
Photo: Bloomberg