22 November 2011

Foreign policy is wacked out.

This is important.

One of the things often glazed over in the haste of politicians hacking away at foreign aid in their speeches and debates is how much of that aid is actually little more than military funding. We give a ton of such funding to Afghanistan and Iraq, for the obvious reason that we are occupying those countries and presumably "training" and arming their armed forces. But beyond that, we also give large sums to Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, and lesser amounts to other nations. Over half of our total foreign aid budget is consumed by these sorts of programmes. I doubt very much this is the sort of thing the average voter, when they are telling anyone in sight that foreign aid should be cut (to an amount more than we currently spend no less, because they don't actually know how much we spend on it and have no idea how big the federal budget is), has in mind as "foreign aid" for one. And second it is precisely the sort of aid programmes that neoconservative hacks who say they want to cut the foreign aid budget want to keep because it advances their silly nation-building/Christian Zionist foreign policy agendas. And as noted, it is thus precisely these kinds of foreign aid that aren't being cut. Indeed, they're precisely the sort that has been greatly expanded over the last decade.

Since I'd say neither of those are laudable goals for our foreign policy and national interests (helping a first world nation fund its military, Israel, or building for unstable third world countries larger and more capable armed forces without sound civilian institutions for stability of control, meaning the armed forces have outsized levels of control over the society and economy as in Pakistan), I'd be perfectly fine if this was the sort of foreign aid that gets gutted. I find no problem if the US wants to commit itself to helping defend Israel or leases out forces and equipment to provide a stable environment for the sale and transport of oil reserves in the Middle East (along with other goods). I have a much bigger problem if we're wasting money investing in pointless schemes that don't help accomplish those goals. We do little to help "defend" Israel if by providing it with money and technical expertise and equipment they feel emboldened to mistreat and abuse large portions of their residents and kick around their neighbours. And we do little to advance regional stability by attempting to build a nation-state out of Afghanistan and attempting to bribe Pakistan's military into helping us to do that when they have very real national interests in not doing so. So stuff like this is probably precisely the sort of waste, fraud, and abuse that people claim occupies huge portions of the federal budget.

Stuff like vaccines and AIDs funding in Africa, not so much really.
Post a Comment