On Aug. 6, 2015, the Republican presidential candidates participated in the first Republican Primary Debate of the 2016 election cycle. The top 10 candidates in the polls debated at 9:00 PM EST. Although the candidates did talk extensively about foreign policy, foreign aid was not mentioned much at all. One candidate, Senator Rand Paul, did mention his views on foreign aid and his potential foreign aid policies.

Senator Rand Paul says that, according to his proposed budgets, he will take a “meat axe” to foreign aid. Paul also thinks that we should not give aid to countries that hate America and “burn our flag.” Additionally, Paul thinks that we should only give aid to our allies when we are running budget surpluses. However, Rand Paul stated that since America is in debt, we are not in a position to give aid to other countries.

Even though it is important to consider relations between countries, this does not absolve our obligation to give to other countries. The United States gives a considerable amount of foreign aid to both Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The U.S. gives the second-largest, third-largest and fourth-largest sums of money to these countries, respectively. The U.S. also gives a significant amount of money to Nigeria.

Extremist groups that reside in these countries should not absolve the United States from helping those who live in poverty. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria all have many people who live in poverty. All of these countries face high poverty rates.

Rand Paul also thinks that we should not give foreign aid until the United States does not have debt. Even though it is important to consider our own debt, the United States is economically better off than many other countries in the world.

The OECD better life index gives the United States a 10 out of 10 for average personal income and an 8.1 out of 10 for housing and jobs. These are all factors that are related to the economic well-being of a country. While the national debt is a problem, most countries face worse economic problems and more widespread poverty than the U.S. We should have an obligation to give to other countries, because we are relatively well-off.

As the 2016 Presidential Race develops, it will be important to note the candidates’ views about foreign aid. Rand Paul has commonly been for small government and thus less foreign aid. If Paul were to be president, his budget would likely cut foreign aid spending.

Ella Cady

Sources: ABC News, Al-Monitor, OECD Better Life Index, Reno Gazette-Journal, Rural Poverty Portal, Rural Poverty Portal, Rural Poverty Portal, Fox News
Photo: RawStory

Rand Paul Misjudges Importance of Foreign AidSenator Rand Paul from Kentucky has made his opinion on American foreign aid quite clear. While there are people here in the United States who still suffer from lack of health insurance and inadequate education, Senator Rand Paul believes that American money should be spent on internal improvements.

However, with a consistent focus on strong national security by the last five or so presidencies, it is not that foreign aid should be cut or reduced. Rather, it should be moved around to be made better use of.

There is military aid, which aims to achieve a specific national security goal directly. This may include ammunition, military bases, or force training. The second category of foreign aid could be best labeled as ‘structural’ aid. Structural aid is given to countries as humanitarian aid, money to rebuild infrastructure, improve health care and education, among other areas. While some may wish to argue otherwise, structural aid allows countries to stabilize themselves internally to prevent outbreaks such as civil wars or terrorist-like groups from arising from the grievances the populace may have.

While military aid tries to end the problem after it comes out of hand, structural aid should be looked at as a way to prevent the problem before it even starts. However, it can be hard to differentiate between the most pressing needs of a foreign country and how that fits into America’s economic ability. Sometimes, nations are not in any political state to receive structural aid. For example, funding education and health care services in Syria is understandably difficult at the moment when rebels and government forces are constantly killing citizens and endangering their everyday lives.

Although it will be hard to convince our nation’s government of the usefulness of structural aid because its actual ‘return’ takes years to surface, pumping money into military aid and then criticizing the use of structural aid ignores the link between both categories and minimizing threats to our national security.

The U.S. presence in countries should not have to start only when wars break out. We should utilize our outstanding resources and analysts to pinpoint countries that are currently able to make the most use out of American aid and begin smoothing out the small bumps on the road before they turn into dangerous potholes.

– Deena Dulgerian

Republicans Support More Minimalist Foreign Policy

The above word is used a great deal when describing Republicans’ take on foreign policy. The Republican take requires America to be aggressive, taking on a very large role in worldwide interactions in order to maintain its political advantages and in order for American foreign policies to remain crucial and imperative worldwide. However, an aggressive foreign policy approach means that America has been involved in a lot of wars and conflicts across the globe, leading to increased military and defense spending. Cutting back on defense spending could push back on the many cuts the government has recently made as a result of the sequester, helping to decrease the national debt and allowing for higher spending in other areas.

Now, a new generation of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul, seems to be hinting at a different Republican approach to foreign policy that could do just that – cut military and defense spending. This different approach, some argue, has some elements of increasing US isolationism. Yet, ultimately, according to Senator Paul, his approach that the United States should take a more minimalist foreign policy approach is more realistic than other options. A minimalist foreign policy approach would have more limitations on presidential power and American power abroad (two areas that Rand Paul sees as needing to be limited, which he reasoned was the justification behind his filibuster of President Obama’s drone policy last week).

Whether or not this new approach will continue to be seriously considered or grow support is unknown. According to the President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard N. Haass, Rand Paul is proposing that a more minimalist foreign policy approach would be the solution to finding a new Republican brand as they approach 2016. It would be a means of ensuring that the US overreaching in another country, as was done in Iraq and many of the US’s other ongoing military involvements, does not occur again.

In terms of foreign aid, a more minimalist foreign policy may mean a more minimalist domestic policy as well. Turning focus inward and safeguarding national interests within the United States may provide less incentive to provide foreign aid, especially in situations that involve conflict or have turbulent political implications.

– Angela Hooks

Source: NY Times
Photo: Facebook

Arguing for Foreign AidSenator Rand Paul arguing for foreign aid in his recent filibuster has brought a bit more attention to his input on every part of the budget and sequester discussions. Paul’s impressive 13 hours filibuster regarding the use of military drones against U.S. citizens didn’t only shine the spotlight on the issue of drones, it brought the senator’s opinions themselves to the center of a national discussion. Paul claimed yesterday that foreign aid makes the United States less secure.

Read more about how foreign aid helps national security. First, it is important to remember that foreign aid is still less than 1% of the national budget. Yet when talks about budget cuts come up it seems like foreign aid is always about to get the axe while other expenditures, many related to military involvement, are apparently untouchable. Even military professionals overwhelmingly support foreign aid and non-military aid to developing countries and allies. In fact, 84% of military officers said that strengthening non-military tools, such as diplomacy, foreign aid, and development efforts, should be at least equal to strengthening military efforts.

Building self-sufficient communities and providing job opportunities and growing local economies are all essential to combating the root causes of terrorism. By supplying foreign aid to developing countries around the world we are avoiding future conflict while building stronger, positive relationships with the rest of the world and opening potential markets for American business. In the end, we really shouldn’t be thinking of cutting foreign aid anymore, the distribution of aid allows the United States to further ensure its’ national security, strengthen political ties, and create trading opportunities around the globe.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources: PolicyMic, Global Poverty and National Security

Before his appointment as Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry attacked Rand Paul for wanting to cut USAID to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan (September 14, 2012). In the past, Rand Paul has said he would eliminate all foreign aid across the board, to all countries, so this latest addition is not particularly new.

In obvious disbelief over Senator Paul’s position, Senator Kerry explains the importance of aid and the harm that would come if aid were stopped. Harm would come not just to the people of the region but to American interests as well. Senator Kerry emphasizes that aid money goes to civilians who are trying to fend off extremist groups from gaining strength within the region. The aid is helping to stabilize nations, one neighborhood at a time. Civilians are sacrificing much in order to secure their freedoms, and consequently secure American freedoms.

Part of Sen. Kerry’s discontent also seems to stem from the fact that in relation to how much good foreign aid does, “and the impact is extraordinary,” the US actually spends very little money. So to squabble over the cost verses the benefit should be a moot point. He explains that, of the entire budget of the United States that goes into all our foreign operations, embassies, security and aid – all things combine total in at less than 1% of the annual budget.

The stability of these countries are critical to building peace in the Middle East. If aid were just eliminated it would have a “profoundly negative impact that could contribute to even more violence.”

– Mary Purcell

Source: YouTube