Do you remember that obsequious teen in high school who would do everything to curry favor from the cool kids? He would finish their homework, chuckle at all their yarns, and even hand over lunch money on occasion just to sit with them in the cafeteria. Yet, his peers would routinely laugh, bully, and mock him. That has been the United States for decades. Despite all the foreign economic, military, and humanitarian aid, the US is regularly the subject of scorn and hate – and for what? That’s what President Donald Trump is asking.
Putting Aid on Ice
A senior administration official told CBN News that President Trump will try to freeze more than $4 billion in aid to more than 100 countries for the current fiscal year (FY). Reportedly, the White House will roll back the foreign assistance as part of a rescissions package, which has already been appropriated to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.
Officials expect the White House to submit formal cuts to Congress in the coming days. This will automatically freeze the funds and prevent Congress from rescuing the aid from expiring, mainly because FY 2019 has one month left.
The $4 billion only represents a fraction of the near $4 trillion Congress spends, but any little bit helps as the Trump administration is poised to record a $1 trillion deficit. As the old saying goes, watch the pennies and the dollars will follow.
But the president might be in for a fight because he has already experienced push back from both Republicans and Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, informing him that withholding appropriated funds “overrides Congress’ most fundamental constitutional power” and “violates the good faith” of recent budget negotiations. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) cautioned that foreign aid cuts threaten national security and could affect “future appropriations deals” between the executive and legislative branches.
A Friendly Transaction
For decades, one of the chief measures of US foreign policy has been buying friendships. The belief is that if you give your enemy money, then they will obey your commands and refrain from exercising any opposition. If this excuse is the primary aim of the multi-billion-dollar investment, then the US government has gotten a lousy return.
Proponents will also say that foreign aid cures poverty. But does it? Look at other countries that are on the list, including South Sudan, which gets close to $1 billion and is still one of the poorest nations on the planet. Not only does foreign aid not eliminate poverty, it tends to make conditions worse because it decreases the quality of governance, exacerbating graft and oppression.
As Liberty Nation wrote in December 2017:
“In reality, foreign aid rarely goes to the impecunious because the assistance, whether money or food, is stolen by corrupt politicians and military leaders. The money is hidden in Swiss bank accounts, while the food is sold in marketplaces to some shop owned by an official’s cousin or brother.”
Afghanistan receives $5 billion in aid every year, in addition to the hundreds of billions the US has spent on war and security. Yet Kabul is a cesspool of corruption. Egypt, which remains a hotbed of venality even years after the Arab Spring, gets $1.5 billion annually. The Syrian government, considered a despotic regime by the West, is handed $900 million each year. The list goes on.
Do you want your dollars getting shipped out of the country to these places?
Ostensibly, President Trump is taking Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) advice. Paul has repeatedly proposed slashing foreign aid to allies and foes alike, including Israel. And why not? The US has too many problems at home, like a $23 trillion national debt, to be giving limited resources to foreign governments like candy on Halloween.
With President Trump promising an America First agenda, how does redistributing wealth from struggling Americans to give to affluent leaders in other countries benefit the nation? That is a pertinent question that was asked by LN’s James Fite when the idea first floated around last year.
If you want to help a stranger in Kyrgyzstan or Burkina Faso, then contribute to a non-government organization (NGO) or a charity with your own money. Don’t force your neighbor who lives paycheck-to-paycheck to contribute to an African dictator’s Swiss bank accounts.
Every year, the US borrows billions from China, a labeled adversary of the United States. Washington takes that money and gives it to dictators and autocratic regimes that overthrow democratically elected governments. Then politicians send brave young men and women overseas to lose their lives, ostensibly to save the world for democracy. This is a feasible and sustainable strategy? That is what the American people have been sold for years.
Yet if you suggest another foreign policy tactic, like President Trump has, then the establishment labels you as the isolationist. If it takes billions to have these friendships, then who needs them?