Many may ask how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and fortunately, the list of reasons is a lengthy one. Despite its wealth in natural resources, and the resulting potential for prosperity, the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains one of the poorest and least stable regions in Africa. Political and economic instability, in turn, has strained the country’s already weakened institutions, leaving citizens of the Congo to suffer under circumstances that cry out for foreign assistance.
Around nine in 10 citizens still lack basic necessities, with a USAID report showing that over 7.5 million members of the Congo require humanitarian aid. Clearly, the need for assistance to the Congo is strong; yet, unbeknownst to many Americans, there are also reasons why the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Foreign Aid Reduces Insecurity in the Congo and Increases American National Security
One way in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in reduced instability in the nation and the resulting threat it poses to United States interests abroad. General James Jones and Admiral Mike Mullen make this point in an op-ed for Politico, in which they discuss how instability opens nations to terrorist exploitation.
“A host of international terrorist groups,” they write, “Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and ISIS, among others — have taken root in highly fragile regions and countries with shared characteristics, such as corruption and poor governance, weak institutions, high poverty and inequality, widespread indignity and low quality of life for ordinary citizens.”
If the United States increased aid to the Congo to reduce instability, it would strengthen the nation and leave it less vulnerable to terrorist attack and the dark possibilities of terrorists taking root in the country and utilizing its abundance of natural resources.
Foreign Aid Spurs Economic Growth in the Congo and Increases Trade with the United States
The United States ratified a bilateral investment treaty with the Congo in 1984, and trade between the countries has continued throughout the new millennium. The United States mainly receives imports in petroleum and exports everything from machinery to poultry, medical devices and American-made automobiles.
Increasing foreign aid to the Congo would, in turn, create a population with more disposable income and greater buying power, expanding the market for imports from the United States, strengthening America’s agricultural, auto, and medical industries and enhancing the prosperity of millions of blue-collar workers. This is an example of how U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo goes beyond simply being an act of charity.
Foreign Aid Improves the Reputation of the United States
Another reason the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is because currently, the U.S. has a significant image problem around the world, one that has far-reaching implications for its economic development and military programs. Perceptions of the U.S. among developed and developing nations has steadily declined for over a decade, with only Russia and Israel expressing increasing approval of the United States in the past year.
Foreign aid to developing countries not only helps the image of the United States among the Congolese but also throughout the world. This is beneficial to the U.S. since it can mean greater support from other countries on a broad range of issues, including trade, national security, and other strategic priorities.
Foreign aid might even lead to greater willingness on the part of other countries to aid the United States in times of national crisis, such as during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when 95 nations from around the world offered foreign aid themselves to the United States.
– Shane Summers