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U.S. Assistance to the Developing World
“Could each of you tell me the purpose of the United States giving economic assistance to other countries?” These were the words Senator Bob Corker used to kick off the debate over the effectiveness of current U.S. allocations, and the purpose of U.S. assistance to the developing world.

In general, all of the witnesses agreed that the purpose of U.S. assistance to the developing world is to promote economic growth and the conditions that sustain it, but each participant expressed nuances regarding how this goal can be accomplished.

Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, believes that the key to improving U.S. assistance is to ensure the accountability of recipient governments. In his introductory remarks, he recommended that countries meet certain performance outcomes or be subject to the withdrawal of aid.

“If the recipient country is not committed,” said Herbst, “to private sector growth and a dynamic economy, then no matter what the design of foreign assistance is…the aid is not going to have a significant effect.”

But this is also a matter of perspective. Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Vice President of Global Development at InterAction, explained that many of the factors affecting program success are overlooked due to a lack of technical tools. Mandaville emphasized growth diagnostics and cost-benefit analyses to determine the real obstacles to growth and whether those can be overcome in the long term.

For instance, Mandaville pointed out that one common barrier to growth in West African countries is poor infrastructure. Roads there are congested and do not accommodate large transport vehicles, so the perceived solution is to simply make an infrastructure investment.

However, from a technical point of view, high transport costs are created not by the macro-situation, but rather by its surrounding actors. “The problem is that there are three different ministries allowed to set up safety checkpoints,” Mandaville explained. “So you’ve tripled the instances for graft, and you’ve slowed down speed by threefold.”

Mandaville and Herbst’s examples underscore this trend of awarding targeted aid programs to countries with strong records of good governance.

To round out this idea, Dr. Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development stressed that the future of U.S. assistance lies in the public-private partnership. Highlighting initiatives such as USAID’s “Power Africa,” he expressed that “the deployment of commercial capital for public policy purposes” is the greatest enabler of economic growth.

To date, “Power Africa” has secured funds from private actors such as the Africa Finance Corporation ($25 million) and SolarNow ($2 million), combining them with government contributions like those from the Swedish Development Agency ($1 billion).

The conclusion, then, is clear: the purpose of U.S. assistance to the developing world is to enable growth in countries committed to democratic governance. This assistance will compete with that of other donors (such as China) by enforcing metric-contingent funding, and it will promote the public-private investment model as its vehicle for deployment.

These changes are a signal to prospective governments that the U.S. is committed to producing results and not just “buying friends.”

Alfredo Cumerma

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Foreign AidU.S. foreign aid has had a variety of strategic and humanitarian purposes throughout the 20th century. Although initiatives have changed across the decades to address the global “hot topics” of the day, the focus has always been on using aid to address crises, create security and spark development.

U.S. distribution of foreign aid began at the onset of World War I, when in 1914, President Hoover created the Commission for the Relief of Belgium (CRB) to combat a severe food shortage in German-occupied Belgium and Northern France.

In 1917, the U.S. Food Administration provided food for the United States Army and to the millions of people affected by World War I.

International development as a tool for foreign policy began following World War II. The Marshall Plan, diverting $13 billion in aid, allowed Europe to rebuild its infrastructure and strengthen its economy.

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman proposed an international development assistance program. This Cold War initiative sought to reduce poverty, increase production in developing countries and combat communism by helping countries thrive under capitalism.

In 1961, President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act, which created USAID. The president also introduced the Peace Corps the same year, which was intended to spread America’s goodwill and positive image across the globe.

In the 1970s, the Foreign Assistance Act underwent substantial changes that gave food, nutrition and healthcare aid priority when assisting a foreign nation.

In the 1980s, we saw the introduction of a new method of aid giving: using celebrities to gain support for a cause. In 1985, the Live Aid concert, featuring stars like Led Zepplin, Queen, Tina Turner and Madonna, raised $140 million toward fighting poverty and hunger in Africa. This was at a particularly urgent time due to a major drought in Ethiopia that caused widespread famine.

In the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, USAID’s top priority of U.S. foreign aid became sustainable development, focusing on aid that would help nations become self-sufficient.

One of the major U.S. foreign missions was in Somalia in 1992. Famine and ongoing civil war in Somalia led to a humanitarian relief effort by sending troops and delivering basic supplies. Although the military intervention was largely unsuccessful, it served as a learning point for how both U.S. and U.N. interventions should be conducted.

The 2000s created an extra urgency around foreign aid as a means of creating stability. Development is included as one of three pillars of U.S. national security.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was created in 2003 and President George W. Bush created the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004.

Some politicians argue that the U.S. should solve its own humanitarian issues before getting involved in other countries. However, America’s role as a world power makes it impossible for the country to turn a blind eye to the plights of other nations.

History has shown that U.S. foreign aid, if monitored and updated correctly, can do great things to fight poverty and ensure security.

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: Oxfam America, PBS, USAID
Photo: Flickr

international_development
Since 2009, USAID’s budget has gone down by about 16 percent. The United States’ foreign aid organization is already underfunded, making up less than one percent of the federal budget. Yet, USAID has 1,920 projects across almost every continent in the world.

With so little funding, it is impressive how much the organization can accomplish. Given the funding cuts, I talked to an active international development specialist and visiting professor at Colorado College.

Dr. Joseph Derdzinski had much experience with law and security forces in foreign countries during his time in the U.S. Air Force. Since then, he has conducted research on the democratic consolidation processes of post-authoritarian states as well as serving on election observation missions in Afghanistan and Egypt.

Q: Why do you think that USAID’s funding has gone down so significantly since 2009?

A: USAID was a main focal point of building infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan, so USAID funding was contingent on Afghanistan and Iraq. The reduction in USAID’s funding and budget is largely due to a reduction of foreign military personnel as well as development agencies from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Q: Why is the organization so underfunded?

A: It would make sense to fund more fully the agency, but there’s very little will from taxpayers or incentive for elected officials to increase USAID’s funding. In the annual federal budget, foreign aid doesn’t get the same level of attention as other budget items or priorities. This is due in part to the low level of understanding of how little funding foreign aid programs actually receive.

During or in the immediate wake of a war, foreign development funding is easier to justify, but it’s harder for a lawmaker to make a case for aid once the war is over. Moreover, everything to do with the war in Iraq, including development projects, was never part of the annual budgets. They were a supplement to the annual budget.

Q: Can you give me an example of how foreign aid helps the United States?

A: What’s happening in Greece in terms of migrations of people into Greece is a good example. The great majority who aren’t from Syria are fleeing authoritarian regimes and economic woes. And that’s the same as what’s happening at the U.S. border. Migrants to the US are fleeing social unrest and oppressive regimes.

And so, if the goal is to keep people in their home countries, one potential impact of international development is to allow people the option to remain in their home countries.

Q: Would you say that the budget cuts make working in international development difficult?

A: Yes, now more than ever it is more challenging to work in international development.

Conclusion: USAID is an important and undervalued organization in the United States. While at first glance, the work that USAID is doing may appear to primarily benefit the countries that are receiving assistance, it is in fact work that is beneficial to the United States as a whole. International development creates jobs for Americans, protects national security, and as Dr. Derdzinski described, can assist with the United States’ immigration dilemma.

With all of these factors kept in mind, foreign development assistance should no longer be something that is difficult for lawmakers to justify, but rather should be an integral part of policymaking.

Clare Holtzman

Sources: Colorado College, Foreign Policy, USAID 1, USAID 2
Photo: United States Air Force Academy

Millennium_Challenge_Corporation
Since 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has successfully worked to alleviate poverty in 39 nations worldwide. Created to facilitate “smart U.S. foreign assistance,” the U.S. foreign aid agency takes a unique, country-based approach to addressing the root causes of poverty.

The MCC has approved over $10 billion in programs to promote sustainable economic growth. It partners with low- and middle-income nations to fund country-led initiatives that open markets, educate populations and encourage national and international investment.

“Funding is not a ‘giveaway,’ but a benefit that a country earns through hard work and good policy performance,” said John Hewko, vice president of the MCC from 2004-2009, “Recipient countries identify problems and solutions locally rather than accepting programs that are often viewed as highly politicized and motivated by objectives other than long-term development.”

The MCC first determines the eligibility of a nation to receive funding through a rigorous, competitive selection process. Countries must prove that their existing policies promote good governance, transparency, economic freedom and investment in citizens.

Some governments have dramatically altered their laws to openly endorse market growth. This phenomenon – termed the “MCC effect” – encouraged the nation of El Salvador to reduce business start-up time from 115 to 26 days in order to apply for MCC funding in 2005.

The MCC then analyzes a country’s proposal for funding and determines whether it can realistically attain its goals within the span of a five-year “compact.” A compact requires a country’s physical and financial investment in a program in exchange for MCC funding. A local municipality called a Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) manages the compact implementation, and independent fiscal agents monitor funds thoroughly and transparently.

In 2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation invested in a $461 million compact with El Salvador focusing on infrastructure and human development. The compact required that local municipalities and beneficiary communities fund a small portion of project costs.

The MCC projects that the compact will provide employment and economic opportunity to over 700,000 Salvadorans in the next 20 years.

Since the compact’s implementation in 2006, over 10,000 people in El Salvador and major cities in the U.S. participated in consultations. Several business owners in the U.S. have invested in long-term, business opportunities in the Northern Zone, which has been impoverished since the Civil War in the 1980s.

MCC efforts in El Salvador have produced tangible results and garnered international acclaim. Upon completion in 2012, the compact expanded electrification to 12 percent more households, provided potable water to 7,600 families and allowed 12,000 Salvadorans – 60 percent women – to access vocational training.

The El Salvador Compact has also expanded economic opportunities for dairy farmers and other small businesses that operate in the isolated Northern Zone. FOMILENIO, the MCA of the El Salvador Compact, managed the construction of the Northern Transnational Highway Project. Improved road connectivity combined with investments in training, technology and product marketing assisted 17,500 producers.

In September 2014, the MCC established another $277 million compact in El Salvador to address a lack of employment and infrastructure to continue its legacy.

“The MCC process has generated significant goodwill in developing countries and contributed to U.S. foreign policy objectives in those where it operates,” said Hewko.

– Paulina Menichiello

Sources: The Brookings Institution, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The World Bank
Photo: Segura Consulting LLC

congressman_tom_emmer
It’s not often that one hears a Tea Party conservative publicly supporting the use of the United States’ Federal Budget on foreign development aid. That’s what makes Rep. Tom Emmer’s, R-M.N., newfound support for the program both promising and surprising.

During a live online Q & A session held on May 12, Rep. Tom Emmer – whose conservative voting record includes challenges to Minnesota’s minimum wage and efforts to nullify the Affordable Care Act – described the ways in which his recent visit with recipients of U.S. foreign aid in Eldoret, Kenya influenced his perspective on the program.

“I have made the statement in the past that a dollar that we are spending for instance in Africa, in Kenya, is a dollar that we could probably be using at home to build a road or a bridge,” Emmer said. “Well, it’s not that simple.”

During his time in Eldoret, Emmer met with two dairy farmers who, with funding from USAID, improved their operation to such an extent that their increased income allowed them to accumulate enough money to send their three children to boarding school. “That bodes well for the future,” Emmer said, “and I guess I look at it this way: a dollar spent on that is a dollar that we won’t have to spend on additional bombs and bullets and God-forbid boots on the ground in the future.”

This sentiment is consistent with an argument commonly made by proponents of foreign development aid: investing in a greater quality of life for the world’s poor prevents them from looking for it in the form of violent extremist groups like ISIS or al-Shabaab.

The congressman also noted the potential benefits global poverty reduction holds for the U.S. economy. “Well, we need to have trading partners, both here within our boundaries, our borders, but [also] outside of our borders, because remember, 90% of the world’s future customers actually live outside of the United States,” Emmer stated. “We need to make sure that we’re constantly growing those markets so that we can realize a return of value, a valuable return on [our] products.”

Emmer’s change of heart is particularly encouraging given the staunch opposition to foreign aid among many leading Republicans, including presidential aspirant Rand Paul, who in 2012 argued the United States ought to eliminate foreign aid entirely. Indeed, this new stance is consistent with his recent deviation from the standard voting line of far right Republicans, a move that has earned him criticism from a number of his constituents.

That Rep. Emmer’s newfound attitude toward foreign aid so radically differs from that of more moderate Republicans like Paul shows that foreign aid doesn’t need to be an issue that is determined simply – and superficially – by party affiliation. A U.S. presence in impoverished nations, defined by effective economic assistance, creates opportunities for American companies abroad and increases the security of the United States by improving the lives of those whom extremist groups strive to recruit. These are outcomes that should appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike.

– Zach VeShancey

Sources: Think Progress, Business Week Think Progress Think Progress MPR News
Photo: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Facts About MalnutritionWhen focusing on the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition are two things that are frequently brought up. People tend to have an awareness of the concepts along with their prevalence, yet many facts tend to be ignored in discussions relating to malnutrition. Discussed below are the leading facts about malnutrition and their implications.

Top 10 Facts About Malnutrition

1. Two Billion People Worldwide Suffer from Malnutrition
Although malnutrition is often discussed as a problem, it is generally discussed as a problem of the unlucky few. Yet, the reality shows just how widespread the problem truly is. Two billion people, or nearly a third of the global population, suffer from malnutrition.

2. Two-Thirds of Those Suffering from Malnutrition Live in Asia
Although Asia is not the continent with the highest rate of malnutrition, it is the continent with the largest number of malnourished citizens. There is some good news on the issue, however, as the percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition in South Asia has fallen in recent years.

3. Almost 14 Percent of the Population in Developing Countries is Malnourished
The fact that malnutrition primarily affects developing countries tends not to surprise people. However, it is still shocking how widespread the problem is in these countries. More than one in nine people in developing countries suffer from malnutrition.

4. Scaling Up Programs to Target Malnutrition Worldwide Would Cost Only 11.8 Billion Dollars Per Year, According to the World Bank.
For context, the United States spent 618.7 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2013. The need for action is great, and action on behalf of the United States has never been more possible in the fight against hunger.

5. One in Four of the World’s Children is Stunted.
Being “stunted” is defined as having one’s physical and mental growth and development stalled due to a lack of food. This problem mainly impacts developing countries where the number has the potential to rise to one in three.

6. One in Four People in Sub-Saharan Africa are Malnourished
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the greatest rate of malnutrition among its population. The global need to address malnutrition is a challenge, but with the unfair impact it has on regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, it is a challenge we must be willing to face.

7. Half of All Pregnant Women in Developing Countries are Anemic
Anemia, a possible result of malnutrition, causes 110,000 deaths each year during childbirth. Women as a whole also tend to suffer more from malnutrition due to often-sexist norms relating to the issue.

8. Underweight Children are 20 Times More Likely to Die Before the Age of Five
Malnutrition’s biggest victim, of course, is children. Along with the one in four children who are stunted by malnutrition, underweight children are victims of malnutrition. Underweight children, particularly those born to malnourished mothers, are 20 times more likely to die before the age of five.

9. One Third of Child Deaths Prior to the Age of Five are Caused by Malnutrition
As mentioned, malnutrition particularly harms children. Perhaps that harm to children is the most inexcusable aspect of malnutrition. One-third of child deaths prior to the age of five are caused by malnutrition, something that could be addressed through a deeper global focus on improving access to food worldwide.

10. It’s Getting Better, but There is Progress to be Made
So, here’s a little bit of good news: since 2009, the number of children receiving treatment for the acute malnutrition they suffer from has tripled. There is still progress to be made, however. Although the number of children receiving treatment has tripled, the number of children receiving treatment still remains as low as 15 percent.

Through understanding the facts that surround malnutrition, a shift can be made toward addressing the issue. The challenge is great and the global community’s ability and need to face that challenge is even more so. Only through a willingness to take action, can meaningful action be made.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: USA Today, World Food Programme World Food Programme Action Against Hunger World Food Programme
Photo: Adfinitas

gayle_smith
Since President Obama’s announcement of his nomination of a new USAID Chief to replace Rajiv Shah, the name Gayle Smith has been echoed throughout political websites, blogs and news media platforms. With the conversation focused on Gayle Smith, many debate whether she is the prime candidate to head the world’s largest bilateral aid organization.

Gayle Smith is no stranger to development circles. As an African regional expert and former senior leader of 6 years for the National Security Council, Smith has addressed a record setting number of humanitarian crises.

Among her accomplishments is her oversight of the Open Government Partnership, a corruption-fighting initiative encouraging transparency among world governments as well as the empowerment of their citizens. She also oversaw the creation of Power Africa, an aid program fostering connections between African energy firms to allow electricity access to some of the continent’s 6 million who are without power.

Home to the Central African Republic, who has the world’s lowest economic growth rate of negative 36 percent, Africa looks to be a region in need of special attention. A USAID leader specializing in African development might just be the key. Smith has already pronounced herself a proponent of aid to Africa in her prioritization of Power Africa, and could be a valuable asset to the advancement of the numerous countries struggling to keep poverty rates at bay while stimulating economic growth.

Before working alongside President Obama as part of the National Security Council, Smith co-founded the Enough Project in 2006, an organization working to stop crimes against humanity and end genocide in some of the world’s most dangerous regions. The Enough Project first obtains information on the ground, then determines the best solution and mobilizes Washington and the American public to promote policies that work toward a better world. Smith has had an evident history not only of addressing the world’s atrocities, but of working through political leaders to become agents of change in the international arena; a task that is not always easy with regard to issues of genocide and poverty.

“I want somebody who knows all the players, who knows all the levers of power, who’s familiar with them,” Howard Berman, former congressional representative for California commented.

For those seeking a new player who knows the ropes, optimism is in the air. Smith has already been recognized as a development ‘insider’. Jim Kolbe, former congressional representative serving Arizona stated, “Few people know development as Gayle Smith does, and fewer still understand the intricacies of the spaghetti bowl that makes up our whole aid/development system.”

With Smith’s demonstrated knowledge of the inner-workings of the world of aid organizations and development agencies, many are hoping she will be able to continue to steer USAID on the track of reform while promoting a more flexible decision-making process.

Ritu Sharma, co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, is confident that Smith is the right person to succeed Shah. She believes that Smith even has enough clout to change some of USAID’s most stubborn patterns. Sharma stated, “A big problem with our aid is that there’s so little flexibility. When the train’s going in the wrong direction, [we] can’t change tracks.”

Given Smith’s past experience and insider knowledge of the system coupled with the leverage she holds, one thing we do know for certain is that if confirmed, she could be a highly influential leader of USAID with the power to not only support a number of recent humanitarian needs, but also to promote critical reform within the organization.

– Amy Russo

Sources: The Hill, Whitehouse.gov, Enough Project, Devex
Photo: Flickr

Millennium Challenge Corporation
1. It’s a breath of fresh air

Ever since the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) creation in 2004, it has been drastically different from other United States foreign aid programs. According to the Congressional Research Reserve, it places emphasis on “free market economic and democratic principles and policies, where governments are committed to implementing reform measures in order to achieve such goals.” Basically, it favors long-term economic development over short-term aid and calls upon poverty-stricken countries to design and apply remedial projects. This is in stark contrast to U.S. foreign aid policies pre-MCC.

2. Fastidious selection process

Although withholding aid from a deserving country sounds ignoble, it’s a necessary step for the MCC to ensure its efficacy. Before awarding grants, the MCC scrutinizes potentially eligible countries, checking for stable government, transparency and a general “sound track record.” An impoverished but corrupt country cannot receive aid.

3. Enabling (never prescribing)

The MCC does not decide what “aid” looks like. Rather, it funds problem-solving initiatives led by the impoverished countries themselves. This empowers the people who best understand the critical issues, meanwhile inspiring local innovators and inventors. If prescriptions are tawdry and shortsighted, MCC is authentic and enabling.

4. Enabling (never controlling)

Selected countries not only design the economic growth initiatives, but they implement them as well. The MCC works closely with these countries to support and refine tactics, but it is the responsibility of the selectee to drive the bus. While impoverished countries steer and navigate, MCC fuels.

5. Partner accountability 

One technique the MCC uses to motivate its partner countries is a five-year deadline. By the fifth year of funding, the problem-solving projects will have been completed and their successes will have been gauged. This keeps selected countries accountable.

6. Self-accountability 

The MCC works hard to remain as accountable and as transparent as they expect their partners to be. It tracks its achievements and evaluates its impact scrupulously. Successes can then be duplicated, and shortcomings can be fixed.

7. Big achievements

The Millennium Challenge Corporation gives two types of awards: Compacts (five-year grants) and Threshold Programs (smaller grants.) Since its creation in 2004, MCC has, in total, awarded $8.4 billion to initiate and support poverty-reduction projects. Over 38 impoverished countries, from Albania to Zambia, have received grants.

8. It’s only growing

In March of this year, the fiscal year 2015 State Foreign Operations budget request, was released. According to this issue it will provide the MCC with $1 billion. This is 11 percent more funding than it received over the 2014 fiscal year.

— Adam Kaminski

Sources: FAS, MCC, USA
Photo: Asbarez.com

Facts about Foreign Aid
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created on November 3, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Prior to the creation of USAID, there were many foreign assistance organizations that already existed. However, with the birth of USAID came the collaboration of all other foreign assistance programs under one common goal. This was the first time in history that a single agency was given the responsibility to cover of foreign economic development.

Here are 10 facts you may not have known about foreign aid from the United States:

1. U.S. foreign aid was shaped to serve two purposes. First, to improve lives in developing worlds by implementing ways to improve global health, further education, advance food security and much more. As stated by USAID.gov, “USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad.”

2. In 2012, Afghanistan remained the top recipient of U.S. economic and military assistance for the fifth year in a row. Prior to that, Iraq held the top spot from 2003-2007.

3. Foreign aid from the United States is made up of a combination of obligations as well as disbursements. An obligation is a binding agreement that could have immediate results or some in the future. A disbursement is the actual amount paid by federal agencies by cash or cash equivalent during the fiscal year to meet the obligations set.

4. Though a country can rank in the list of top ten recipients based on obligations, there is no guarantee that they will receive the full disbursement. That was the case for Haiti and Columbia in 2011 that ranked in the top ten recipients by obligation but did not receive that amount in disbursements.

5. Less than one percent of the federal budget is spent on foreign assistance.

6. Foreign aid falls under discretionary spending of a whopping $1.258 trillion dollars in 2013.

7. The five primary agencies providing economic assistance include: the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services. These five agencies account for 93 percent of total economic assistance.

8. Sub-Saharan Africa received the largest share of economic assistance at 25 percent with twenty countries receiving over $100 million in economic assistance.

9. Almost half of U.S. foreign assistance goes to six countries that are Washington’s allies in the campaigns against terror and drug trafficking.

10. U.S. foundations amount to about $1.5 billion a year in international giving.

— Janelle Mills

Sources: USAID, USAID, Greenbook, Foreign Assistance, Reuters
Photo: Seattle Times

U.S._Aid_to_Israel
Since 1997, Israel has received $3.1 billion annually in foreign aid from the United States. The agreement began almost two decades ago, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a join session of congress to establish a goal for economic independence.

“Israel’s gross domestic product is at about $250 billion a year, and its per capita income is about $33,000 a year.”

Considering the nation’s level of economic development, the aid could be much more beneficial in other areas. The United Nations Human Development Index currently ranks Israel at 16th in the world and life expectancy at birth is at 81 years—two years higher than the United States itself. Israel has also been the top recipient of United States foreign aid for over the past 30 years.

The question therefore arises, how does a developed nation with per capita gross domestic product on the same level as the European Union average, receive the most amount of aid from the United States?

The answer is riddled with politics and is primarily concerned with influence in the Middle East region. The vast majority of U.S. aid to Israel actually goes to supporting Israel’s military.

The U.S. presently funds about one quarter of Israel’s defense budget.

Much of this aid ends up going to the Israel’s weapons industries. Accordingly, it is not the people of Israel who receive the majority of the aid. In fact, “replacing all American aid would cost Israelis about 1 percent of their income per year,” which is a modest figure considering that the funds could be going to developing nations.

Recent polls show that when asked about the U.S. federal budget, U.S. citizens believe that 28 percent of the budget goes to foreign aid and that the percentage ought to be reduced to 10%. In actuality, less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid.

Considering that much of that 1 percent goes to the economically stable nation of Israel, other programs or nations could use the money much more efficiently.

The U.S. and Israel have had a longstanding alliance, which has contributed to their agreement in military funding. However, considering the purpose of foreign aid, contemporary third world nations facing popular suffering and instability have a far greater need for the help.

Jugal Patel

Sources: Economonitor, Le Monde
Photo: IMEMC