As mentioned before, the deficit accumulated by the two parties is something we should all be concerned about. After looking closely at our federal budget, I would like to address the billions of tax dollars we give every year to foreign countries.
Our current system of foreign aid originated during the Cold War. Under the Marshall Plan, we gave money to rebuild European nations in an effort to dissuade the influence of Communism. These efforts waned with the fall of Communism in the former Soviet Union, but the events of 9/11 reignited national security concerns.
Now, we are giving money to many foreign countries in an effort to provide stability in conflicted regions, bolster allies, promote democracy or contribute to counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts abroad.
Forty-two percent goes to long-term development aid. These programs provide economic growth and general prosperity in the world’s poorest countries. Ironically, most of this goes to government health-care systems, predominantly in African countries.
Thirty-three percent goes to military and security aid. These programs help allies purchase U.S. military equipment, train their military personnel, and fund peacekeeping missions. This did not turn out well in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
For those unfamiliar with Vietnam and Middle Eastern history, the U.S. sold military equipment and helped train soldiers in Iraq under Saddam Hussein because he was at war with Iran in the 1980s. We also provided similar aid to Afghanistan in the 1980s because they were fighting the Russians in their country. We did similar in Vietnam to stop Communism.
Fourteen percent goes to humanitarian aid. This is meant to alleviate short-term humanitarian crises, such as famine, earthquakes, war, state failure or other disasters. This includes disaster relief efforts, as well as purchases of U.S. agricultural goods and funding for organizations such as the International Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Finally, 11% goes to support political stability, free-market economic reforms and democratic institutions. Basically, we step in and tell foreign citizens how to run their country.
Foreign assistance is managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is a complex system of agencies, with more than 20 federal agencies and employs more than 9,000 staff around the world.
More than 200 countries receive aid from the U.S. However, it mostly goes to five main countries — as of 2016: Iraq ($5.3 billion), Afghanistan ($5.1 billion), Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.2 billion) and Jordan ($1.2 billion). This is largely due to the concentration of military aid in these countries.
President Trump, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, said, “Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.”
Though this seems logical, it can and would cause resentment from other countries, which is part of the reason why we pay so much money to some of these countries. It’s like paying “protection money” to the bully at school so he doesn’t mess with you.
Ultimately, the best solution is to eliminate foreign aid from our budget as a whole. Instead of sending money to rebuild the infrastructure and sustain the health of people in other countries, let us keep more of our money so we can take care of ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with providing humanitarian aid to people in need. However, that should be done of your own volition with your own money. Before trying to care for others, we must first be able to care for ourselves.