Despite showing movement towards democratic values in 2011, when an armed uprising stripped longtime dictator Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi of his hold on the country, Libya’s civil and political rights regressed back to a state of chaos. The country is currently plagued by feuding regimes, organized criminals and factions of the Islamic State all fighting over power in the country. This makes it more important than ever that the United States delivers humanitarian aid to the struggling nation. However, such aid stands to improve conditions not only in Libya; the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya as well.
Currently, the United States is set to deliver $31 million in foreign aid to Libya in 2018. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that half of this will be spent protecting the country’s weakened representative governing bodies and shifting the country’s values towards those of democratic governance and humanitarianism. The United States hopes to spread these values by working with smaller grassroots movements and entrepreneurs in order to establish a stronger civil society that will hold government officials accountable. The vast majority of the remaining half of the $31 million is aimed at stopping the spread of terrorist cells that pose a threat to Libyan citizens and the United States of America.
Protection from Terrorism
One of the primary reasons the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya is national security. By fighting the spread of extremist groups and working to create a robust and peaceful civil society, the United States does more than spread humanitarian values; it also protects itself from future terrorist threats. In stopping the spread of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in North Africa, the United States is halting the further spread of extremism and, with the development of a strong civil society, making it harder for terrorist groups to establish themselves in the region. Weak and vulnerable communities that are already lacking in civil and political rights tend to serve as prime targets for terrorist groups to infiltrate.
By strengthening these communities with foreign aid, the United States removes opportunities for the further expansion of terrorism and reduces the likelihood of violent insurgencies. In the long run, foreign aid to Libya is an investment in the continued security of the United States, and one of the proven strategies for solving the problem of extremism.
The remaining money that is not spent on fighting extremism and promoting humanitarian values in Libya is dedicated to the further economic development of Libya’s private sector. This is important to establish regional security, as a stronger economy helps build communities and promote a representative and accountable method of governance. Furthering the economic development of Libya also serves to benefit the economy of the United States. A Libyan populace with more spending capital, along with a stronger national GDP and a functioning government, promotes global economic development and provides a new market for exports from the United States, strengthening the U.S. economy and spurring the creation of new jobs.
Helping Others Does Not Hurt the U.S.
Americans often worry that spending money promoting the economic and political development of other countries somehow hurts the U.S. economy and the nation’s own citizens. This thinking is deeply flawed. Research shows the opposite to be true. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya, as the United States is not only helping Libyans lift themselves out of poverty and political turmoil, but such aid also improves America’s own national security and economic development. Clearly, continued investment in Libya vital is to future United States efforts at home and around the globe.
– Shane Summers