The Roles of Aid in Politics Putting China in Perspective



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Palmer, Glenn, Wohlander, Scott B. and Morgan, T. Clifton (2002), “Give or Take: Foreign Aid and Foreign Policy Substitutability,” in Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 5-26, London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Dehli: Sage Publications.

In this article, we have taken several steps toward an explanation for foreign aid. By drawing from an established general theory of foreign policy, and addressing the topic broadly and systematically, we hope to have made foreign aid less of a puzzle and more understandable within the general context of foreign policy. The theory explains foreign aid as a change-seeking behavior, directed toward encouraging recipient states to behave in ways favorable to donors. That is, while foreign aid may be applied toward the production of either change or maintenance, we argue that it is more efficient, ceteris paribus, for change-seeking; therefore, states will employ foreign aid in their foreign policy portfolios largely as a change-seeking policy. Developmental assistance, in particular, exemplifies this argument and is the focus of this article. Applying the theory to state donations of development assistance yields two sets of implications.

First, the theory specifies the conditions under which states give aid, positing a relationship between national capabilities and development assistance donations. Empirical tests of this relationship showed support not only for the intuitive idea that foreign aid donations are positively related to national capabilities, but also for the more specific and novel proposition that foreign aid donations increase as an increasing function of capabilities – that is, increases in national capabilities lead to even greater increases in development assistance donations.

Second, the theory posits a more complex but better-specified conception of foreign policy substitutability, and links foreign aid with other foreign policy behaviors states employ in their foreign policy portfolios. The theory posits that donations of development assistance will be substitutable for other change-seeking behaviors, but not for maintenance-seeking. Empirical tests of this proposition show that the amount of foreign aid given by a state is negatively related to that state’s rate of dispute initiation, its expenditure on change military, and the change it derives from its alliance portfolio. We have found additional support for this conception of foreign policy substitutability through a specific analysis of the effects of participation in NATO on the foreign aid donations of member-states. Consistent with our expectations, the weaker members of NATO, receiving maintenance from the alliance, donate greater amounts of foreign aid than would otherwise be expected, while stronger members, receiving change from the alliance, donate less foreign aid than would otherwise be expected.

Putting all of this together, we believe this initial analysis has been largely successful. Using a relatively simple approach, we have been able to derive a number of interesting theoretical propositions, and these have found support in the empirical analysis. This is not to suggest, however, that we now have a complete theory of foreign aid – rather, this initial analysis has only opened the door for further theoretical development and research. Future research should continue to develop and specify these ideas, generating insight about whether we are on the right track and adding to our cumulative knowledge.



Patrick, Stewart and Brown, Kaysie (2006), “Fragile States and US Foreign Assistance: Show Me the Money,” Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 96.

The Bush administration has increasingly acknowledged that weak and failing states represent the core of today’s global development challenge. It has also recognized that such states are potential threats to international peace and security. But despite rhetoric, it has yet to formulate a coherent strategy around fragile states or commit adequate resources towards engaging them. Excluding funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and HIV/AIDS, the administrations FY07 budget request proposes to spend just $1.1 billion in direct bilateral assistance to fragile states – little more than a dollar per person per year. In this new working paper, CGD research fellow Stewart Patrick and program associate Kaysie Brown urge US policymakers to consider increasing aid to fragile states and to think creatively about how and when to engage these troubled countries. The authors also call for the policy community to integrate non-aid instruments into a more coherent government strategy. To put its money where its mouth is, the US should treat aid to weak and failing states as a form of venture capital, with high risk but potentially high rewards.



Picard, Louis A. and Buss, Terry F. (2009), A Fragile Balance: Re-Examining the History of Foreign Aid, Security and Diplomacy, Sterling: Kumarian Press.

1: Foreign Aid Policy in the Twenty-First Century [pp. 3-12]

Our Approach

For the third time in a generation, the United states is embroiled in a war in a developing country based on false information and faulty decision making. More than forty years ago, the United States escalated its involvement in Vietnam. In October 2001 and March 2003, the United States invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq, respectively, becoming entangled in one of the longest military engagements in US history. Commentators often note the uncanny similarities among the three conflicts. Each shows the triangulation of foreign policy, then military intervention, followed by foreign aid, all for the worse. In all three, though one hopes for a better future, US diplomacy has taken a global beating that might take decades to repair; the military faced a situation where it could not gain a decisive victory and became mired in nonmilitary actions for which it was neither designed nor prepared to execute; and aid found itself serving goals that were more supportive of military objectives rather than development goals that were largely unattainable in a war zone.

Our book examines US foreign aid from a public policy perspective. Our approach concurs with the view of Vernon Ruttan, who states, “Changes in US [foreign] assistance policy respond to and are constrained by domestic political and economic interests and concerns.”1 Our approach uses history as its methodology. Understanding the history and context of foreign aid within foreign and security policy is as important as understanding technical formulas or narrow calculations of cost-benefit analysis.

The international assistance story “is full of entertaining and penetrating commentaries about the ironies – as well as the historic failure – of foreign aid.”2 Along with the irony, there is also a great deal of sadness and lost opportunity in the enterprise. Our book analyzes failures and successes as lessons for future foreign assistance approaches. Although we hoped to find more successes than failures, that was not the case in foreign aid.

The book assesses US foreign aid policy at this critical juncture – immediate post-September 11 – to contribute to the policy debates about future US foreign and security policy. It looks at decisions policies and processes, placing each in a historical, social, and economic context. Our view is that foreign aid, foreign policy, and security policy reflect broad political values of government and society, and understanding these is not only an empirical exercise but also a normative one.

Richard Neustadt and Ernest May warn us about the danger of ignoring the past and assuming that the world is new and that “decisions in the public realm required only reason or emotion, as preferred.”3 Our approach places foreign aid within the context of diplomacy, as well as foreign and security policy beginning in the eighteenth century and extending to the post-September 11 world. Foreign aid appeared to many observers to begin in 1948 as a blank canvas swept clean by the carnage of World War II. In reality, what seemed a new approach carried excess baggage from past events, values, and assumptions that originated centuries earlier. Our book’s goal is to examine that baggage and link it to decisions made at critical points in history, from the beginnings of the Cold War to post-September 11.

We do not intend for this book to be merely a work of abstract social science.4 It addresses both academic debate and practical perceptions as reflected in the normative discussions about foreign aid. Rather than leaving foreign and security policy to the “purity” of the academy, it takes political, journalistic, activist, and normative debates seriously. It treats all sources as proximate, and, while social science research is important, the approach here assumes that foreign and security policies are to important to be relegated to armchair debates.

Motivated by the tragedies of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the focus of this book is on US foreign aid policy and its relationship to foreign and security policy issues. Foreign aid cannot be separated from either foreign or security policy, in spite of the propensity of many analysts to do so; however, all three can be reconstructed in ways that emphasize one over the other at any point in time. This is important in light of the current emphasis on bringing together foreign, defense, and international assistance policies (the so-called triangulation of US international policy). Some have dubbed triangulation the three D’s: diplomacy, defense, and development.5

Our goal is to examine various influences on foreign aid over time and discuss the context and process of policy making on and implementation of aid policies and their impact on international relations. A conceptual framework for understanding foreign aid reflects on the search for an enlightened but realistic optimism that deals equally with commercial, security, and humanitarian concerns in a manner nonthreatening to nations receiving aid.

If there is a causal relationship involved in foreign policy and foreign aid, it is a simple, if not profound, one: politics and implementation should be examined historically because past events are always antecedents of future events. There is no single explanation of foreign aid policy decisions in terms of realpolitik, economic determinism, or religious obligation. Different elements weigh in differently at different times. Neustadt and May call for the “placement” of events in a weighted timeline to understand both patterns and processes of decision making.6

We believe there is no single explanation for state behavior, whether it acts diplomatically, militarily, or through international assistance. Foreign aid, like foreign policy as whole, reflects a multitude of influences on group dynamics and individuals decisions, cultural, social and economic, which combine over time to influence the policy and implementation of international assistance.7 Some aid decisions are made by people in power; many are reflected in actions by people working on the ground.

Our goal was to write a book accessible to students while also presenting new ideas, debates, and information of interest to foreign policy specialists and informed citizens. This book does not shy away from policy debates but tries to use them to understand the diversity of the issues and our understanding of foreign aid at a time when foreign policy choices may have gotten out of control.

Correctives are important, and self-correction is part of the process of policy debate.8 Our book has been influenced by what Robert Cowley calls “counterfactual” history, that is history that might have been but is not but which can “cast a reflective light on what did [occur].”9 This book is a commentary and, perhaps, a corrective.

Understanding Foreign Aid

Paul Mosley defines foreign aid correctly, though narrowly, as “money transferred on concessionary terms by the governments of rich countries to the governments of poor countries.”10 In this sense, there was some government financial or humanitarian assistance prior to World War II, though the first broad transfer of funds on a worldwide basis in peace time occurred with the Marshall Plan.

Unlike most writing on foreign aid, however, we look at the earlier period of international assistance prior to 1948 because it defined values and boundaries of contemporary foreign assistance and helped to establish processes under which it would be granted.

The definition of aid is important when one places the United States within the context of its isolationist and expansionist history represented in the nineteenth century by the notion of Manifest Destiny. This, as we will see in the next several chapters, resulted in a messianism defined by isolationism prior to World War II and unilateralism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, with the United States increasingly willing to go it alone in foreign and security policy after 1989.

Foreign aid is one tool for achieving foreign policy goals. In addition to foreign aid, this pool of potential actions includes:


  • Threat and use of force

  • Cover operations and proxy interventions

  • Intelligence gathering and information dissemination

  • Diplomacy

  • Propaganda

  • Cultural exchanges (visits and exchanges)

  • Economic threats and promise and trade policies (sanctions and tariffs)

Foreign aid should be seen in the context of historical patterns and international assistance – private or public.11 International assistance is the transfer of any resources (grants of money and concessionary –less than market rate – loans), the provision of goods and services, and technical assistance, including military assistance (in 2007, the Department of Defense and its Defense Security Cooperation Agency administered one-fifth of US assistance). Some observers also include debt forgiveness in foreign assistance. International assistance comes from private foundations and philanthropists, as well as publicly funded assistance: government-to-government and government-to-nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Use of the term foreign aid, as a subset of international assistance here, means the subset of government (donor) economic and financial transfers – directly or indirectly. Foreign aid as it evolved after 1948 was an extension of diplomacy and an alternative to sanctions, conflict, intervention, and war.12 Along with Carol Lancaster, we see foreign aid as a “voluntary transfer of public resources, from a government to another independent government, to an NGO, or to an international organization with at least a 25 percent grant element.”13



Technical assistance is the provision of expert assistance more often than not on a temporary basis to government agencies (and sometimes to NGOs).14 This includes technical assistance provided to the private sector or NGOs and interest associations. Technical assistance includes consulting, service support, education, and training.15

Specifically, such technical assistances provides technical specialists, civilian and sometimes military, on direct contract with government agencies or with private businesses and NGOs or foundations that provide services. Often technical assistance concerns institution or capacity building. Consulting, both long- and short-term, constitute the heart of technical assistance. The technical assistance expert is responsible to the client, but it is not always clear who the client is: the host country, its leadership and its program managers, or the donor agency and its contracting and program officers.

This book tries to demonstrate and simplify the complex world of foreign aid with all its diversity and meanings. Given the complexity of aid, discussion is necessarily selective and incomplete. In the end, foreign aid, like trade, defense, and security policy “may productively be viewed as a microcosm of nation-states’ broader efforts in foreign affairs.”16

The most common form of international aid is the transfer of economic resources for political, social, and economic development. Often incorporated into foreign aid is international technical assistance. Military and security assistance is also a subset of foreign aid in some cases as is eradicating illegal drugs exports and interdiction of illegal migrants – “boat people.” Traditionally, foreign aid focuses on at least four primary objectives:



  • Broadly based economic growth

  • An effective attack on poverty and disease

  • An end to the destruction of the physical environment of the world

  • The promotion of democracy and governance (increasingly common since the end of the Cold War)17

Following from this there are four components to foreign aid policy visible through time:

  • Physical infrastructure development

  • Support for social and economic development

  • Humanitarian and security assistance

  • Support for good governance, conflict resolution, and political development

Democratic governance and political development have become particularly important in the last fifteen years. As early as 1950, advocates made it clear that democratic governance was essential for development aid to succeed.18 Increasingly since 1989, there is concern for the establishment of legitimacy for democracy and good governance, which predominates, at least conceptually, in aid debates; however, if aid is inappropriately provided, this can make governance problems much worse. Funding opposition political parties with assistance may create political instability for example.

In the twentieth, foreign assistance served a multiplicity of purposes: diplomatic, security, cultural, developmental, humanitarian relief, and promotion of commerce. After the Cold War, promotion of economic and social transitions in former socialist countries, the support for democratic governances, mediating conflicts, managing postconflict transitions, addressing environmental and fighting international terror are increasingly important.

Our book has a point of view: foreign aid can be used to provide social services, develop human resources, and promote democratic institutions, but it is not in itself the best tool to promote economic growth or redistribution of resources. Again, if used injudiciously, aid can also do great damage.

While not always an independent policy, foreign aid is a tool of foreign and security policy, and it also serves as a strong symbol and signal to the international community. Since the 1950s, foreign aid and technical assistance were “established on the premise that the developed world possessed both the talent and the capital for helping backward countries to development.”19 Since 2000, observers have questioned the validity of that assumption. […]



2: International Assistance, Foreign Policy, and Security Policy [pp.13-20]

Several factors have had an impact on the foreign aid process during the last two hundred years. Going back to the origins of the nation-state, there was always statecraft and commercial motives involved in international humanitarian assistance. In international relations, there are both a “realist paradigm in international relations theory … and cosmopolitan, cooperative, or altruistic strains” based on idealism, which operate in tandem.16

There are two broadly defined schools of foreign policy and foreign aid: a “hard” school and a “soft” school. The hard school focuses on security assistance and commercial concerns, and it is both costly and politically risky. The soft school takes the classical path of foreign aid with soft power being more effective than the use – or threat – of force in securing influence in international relationships.17

Soft power calls on well-endowed states to improve public health and education; introduce modern agricultural technologies; encourage small-scale industries; and carry out a wide range of agrarian reform, from land redistribution through the organization of cooperatives and provision of rural credit and farm inputs.

Foreign aid humanitarian and development goals sometimes become distorted through the use of aid by donor countries for commercial, military, and other political purposes. Prior to 1989, foreign aid, in large part, centered on Cold War influences between and among the super-powers. In the post Cold-War period, foreign aid often was offered as a carrot to tempt conflicting sides in civil strife into accepting mediation or as a component of the war on terror.

Beyond security concerns, all nations, large and small, have links between foreign aid and trade policies, and the private sector plays an important role in providing both commodities and services to foreign aid recipients. Humanitarian, and even moral arguments, justified foreign aid, but in the end, it was systems of international intercourse that framed the parameters of foreign aid. All of these factors, as perceived by political leaders, interests groups, and administrators in the field, helped define foreign aid into the twenty-first century.

For almost 500 years, it was the imperial system that began in fifteenth century and the industrial revolution beginning in 1800 that defined global international relations and political economy. We turn to these issues next. […]

3: Historical Antecedents [pp.21-36]

Government and administration “in most of the countries of Asia and Africa and more distantly, Latin America, [were] conditioned by their colonial pasts.”43

Colonialism defined authority in most of what we call the developing world until well after the 1960s and much of the practice of foreign aid and technical assistance grew out of that heritage. Understanding that legacy is important to any attempt to define the mixed legacy and the moral ambiguities that frame international assistance after 1960. These values remain an important factor in influencing foreign aid.

It is our contention that many of the characteristics of the colonial period – in terms of administration, development policy and normative values, some for better, many for worse – carried over to both bilateral and multilateral aid programs.

Our book does not argue that a history of colonialism and imperialism is the only driver of aid, security, and diplomacy in the twenty-first century. Much would occur in the evolution of foreign aid policy that was not a product of that history. Yet, to reiterate: three components of international assistance – economic exchange, commercial development, and religion-based humanitarian impulses – converged in the 1850s as the European powers, along with Japan and the United States, created world-wide empires. To what extent this convergence continues to define world governance is a focal point here.

Also at issue is to what extent there are similarities between Britain in the early twentieth century and the United States since 2000. In the latter case, the United States was overloaded with misused foreign aid and was made a pawn of its “attempts to secure that indefinable and ultimately unattainable thing [called] ‘national security.’”44 We will revisit this issue at various points in this book. […]



Part II: Epochs of Aid, Diplomacy, and Security Policy

4: Manifest Destiny and American Expansionism [pp. 37-64]

One can learn much about foreign aid policy during the period prior to 1948. It’s all there: missionaries, concern with terms of trade, professional specialists, idealism, balance-of-power calculations, and even military support. Technical assistance played an important role in US involvement in international assistance prior to 1940. Motives were varied: technical specialists were sometimes missionaries, sometimes had commercial ties, and often defined their roles in moral and even ethical terms.

What was not there was the volume of financial transfers that would come into being after 1948 with the Marshall Plan and Truman’s Point Four Program. Nor would one find the bureaucratization and “projectization” that would all but eliminate flexibility and creativity as components of US foreign aid. Both would begin in the postwar period with the announcement of the Point Four Program.

What preceded World War II and the beginning of the Cold War were the developmental dilemmas and moral ambiguities built into the Western modernization concept, pushed by both colonialists and developmentalists alike. It was these dilemmas that would deepen as the United States entered the period of modern foreign aid after 1945. The development of modern state-sponsored foreign aid and technical assistance was ultimately, however, a product of two World Wars and the Cold War sequel. It is to these developments that we now turn. […]



5: The Impact of Two World Wars [pp. 65-82]

While foreign aid and technical assistance in its modern form is only sixty years old, their antecedents go back well into the 1800s. The move to massive government-to-government aid represented a major shift in international assistance after World War II. Patterns of international assistance, however, did have their roots in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century.

The Marshall Plan’s legacy can still be seen in the world today. Most importantly, the aid scheme marked the beginning of a time when the United States first became permanently involved in the world. Ironically, for all its success, the Plan would become a reminder of US timidity in foreign aid terms as the Cold War dragged on. It became a marker of bolder times.

After 1948, for the first time, governments in more-developed countries assumed that the redistribution of wealth internationally was part of their responsibility. While private funds remained important, by 1970 voluntary private transfers of resources accounted for only 3 percent of the flow of resources into developing countries. We discuss creation of a more formalized foreign aid program in the postwar period, emanating from the Marshall assumption, in Chapter 6. […]



6: Point Four, USAID, and the Cold War [pp. 83-102]

There is a tendency among Americans to believe that their values and needs are universal. On the whole, Americans have remained an optimistic society. Internationalism since the 1950s meant historical commitment, compromise, and recognition of the inherently political nature of the international process. This remained difficult for many policymakers who may see moral choices in interaction. This perception can lead to difficulties in distinguishing between that which a country declares and that which is real.

During the immediate postwar period, the purpose of foreign aid was to restore war torn countries, strengthen the military and political defenses of “free” nations, and weaken the appeal of communism. There was a messianic element to the enterprise. By the end of the 1960s, however, foreign aid as reform “had lost its evangelistic tone and taken on a legal flavor.”61

The shift toward government-to-government aid represented a major change in international assistance after World War II and was defined in the period between 1948 and 1961. Now, at least in theory, governments assumed that some redistribution of wealth internationally was part of their responsibility. The goal of policymakers in the 1950 was to create a foreign aid system that included a unified administration and policy formulation, long-term planning and financing, and integrated country-level programming.

Perceptions of foreign aid failure originated in strategic rather than developmental considerations during the Cold War. There may be a lesson here for those who see foreign aid as a part of a war on terrorism. As a result, it is not unlikely that there may be similar perceptions of failure in future as the US reaches into the twenty-first century. […]

7: The Vietnam War [pp. 103-118]

With the end of the Vietnam War and the related collapse of Iran on February 5, 1979,55 foreign aid concerns toward basic needs although still influenced by many of the assumptions of established in Southeast Asia. The United States began withdrawing rather than expanding foreign aid and technical assistance, a withdrawal that would continue until September 11, 2001. This shrinkage was the first time that had occurred since the end of World War II.

Vietnam’s legacy for the Third World was to solidify, in the minds of LDC intellectuals and elites, an image of the West that made no distinction between the United States and the West European former colonial powers. Both Europe and the United States were seen as “colonial exploiters,” rich and white. As the Vietnam War illustrated, in both isolationism and interventionism, the United States has need an evangelical vision and a moral role in reforming and developing the lesser developed parts of the world.

As a result of Vietnam, both in terms of foreign and development policy, the United States veered away from the very concept of playing a global role a s country, leaving much of foreign aid in the hands of international organizations and a handful of European nations. Withdrawal would have significant consequences, and debate as to whether Vietnam was a foreign policy or military defeat would continue through the end of the twentieth century.

With a much less global foreign aid policy, LDC elites became suspicious of the twin goals of stability and modernization that had defined foreign aid through so much of the Cold War. The fateful events of September 11 would restore US concern for international affairs, if not development management concerns. […]

8: Basic Needs, Structural Adjustment, and the Cold War’s End [pp. 119-154]

Throughout the 1990s under structural adjustment, the United States and other donors increased support to promote in their bilateral programs politically sensitive, restrictive, and intrusive policies and actions that would encourage conservation measures, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and forest management. Such action often advocated policies that would not be acceptable to the United States and other countries at home. As Severigne Rugumamy has noted, “the institutional and organizational capacities of the recipient states [came to be] considered as critical intervening variables in explaining the aid relationship.”129

Throughout much of the developing world there existed a continuous tension between the humanitarian functions of foreign aid in trying to improve social welfare conditions in LDCs and the narrower imperatives of self-interest. In 2000, neither concern appeared to be important to the American public. During the 2000 presidential campaign, foreign aid had reached its nadir. Candidate George W. Bush would attack nation-building and overseas assistance. Bush wanted to focus on domestic affairs.

Overall, as the millennium approached, interest in foreign aid waned. Except for a few bankrupt African countries, USAID no longer represented a significant transfer of resources to LDCs relative to the size of their economy. By the end of the twentieth century, the path to apathy about international development was clear. Despite the acceptance of structural adjustment by many LDCs, by the mid-1990s, foreign assistance levels continued to plunge.

September 11, however, would change all of that: policymakers became concerned that impoverished people fed by fundamentalist religions and living in failed states would offer sanctuary and become a breeding ground for terrorists. As a result, foreign aid budgets would surge with allocations, more than doubling in ten years. We will turn to those developments in the next two chapters. […]

9: September 11 and the Iraq War [pp.155-172]

The fallout from September 11 demonstrated the limits of multilateralism and the dangers of unilateralism in foreign aid, security, and foreign policy. There was still an absence of a clear strategy to deal with some fifty or so weak and fragile states that were not Iraq.74 With a new administrator of USAID in early 2006, the concept of fragile states was dropped as concern increased over short-term conflict resolution. The fragile and collapsed states metaphors may have reminded the political leadership too much of the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In late 2008, the Iraq story remained unfinished. The popularity of President Bush was at an all-time low, 33 percent or less. The Iraq Study Group had released its devastating critical report. Rumsfeld had resigned. Midterm elections in 2006 had returned the Democrats to power in the House of Representatives and Senate, and on November 4, 2008, Barak Obama won the presidency.

Yet despite all of the criticism, focus in Iraq remained on the military situation and the success or failure of the surge. Much more needed to be understood of the long-term consequences of foreign aid and security assistance policy in the post-September 11 era. Unilateralism had, at least for the moment, been debunked. But could the United States return to the multilateralism that had allowed it to muddle through the Cold War? It is to these issues that we turn in the next chapter. […]



10: Reconstruction, Civic Action, and AFRICOM [pp. 173-192]

Despite the challenges of underdevelopment, there is a “rich track record of over forty years of success in reducing infant and child mortality, raising agricultural production through scientific innovations, and spurring economic growth and the building of democracies in many regions of the world.”57 These success created market opportunities and strategic alliances for the United States during the Cold War; however, the question is whether armed social work can contribute to foreign policy and the foreign aid agenda, and, of course, help to win the peace in Africa.

These changes likely require a staged process of public service reform, both lengthy and planned over time to avoid the distortions of a donor-funded, postconflict situation with its “parallel” administrative structures.58 A primary lesson derived from US support for civil society and civic-action activities is that institutions and institutional processes matter. This perspective may not be reflected in the geographical command approach developed by the United States in Africa.

Historically, the focus of much of foreign assistance was on the support of civil society organizations that can undertake civic-action development projects, including community-based sanitation and cleanup efforts, rebuilding schools and clinics, installation of water pumps, and establishment of community health service delivery. The purpose is to combat the hostility of ethnic, ideological, and/or religious-based grassroots organizations, NGOs, and other financial institutions that run counter to US interests.59

At issues is the extent to which AFRICOM’s creation was more than a change of bureaucratic structures, reflecting a different methodology toward nonmilitary reconstruction and stability support for fragile and collapsed states, or whether it represented business as usual for Defense. Civilian involvement in AFRICOM assumes there is a link between poverty and terrorism. This remains unproven. Much of the leadership in religious terrorist groups is middle class, sometimes educated in Western Europe.

AFRICOM focuses on governance: physical security, political institutional development, economic management, and social service delivery. Most of the assistance will be civilian in nature. Yet to be determined is the extent to which the civilian structures blend with the military leadership in Defense. […]

Picard, Louis A., Groelsema, Robert and Buss, Terry F. (eds.) (2008), Foreign Aid and Foreign Policy: Lessons for the Next Half Century, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc.

Picard, Louis A. and Groelsema, Robert (2008), “U.S. Foreign Aid Priorities: Goals For the Twenty-First Century,” in Picard, Louis A., Groelsema, Robert and Buss, Terry F. (eds.) (2008), Foreign Aid and Foreign Policy: Lessons for the Next Half Century, pp. 3-26, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc.

Foreign aid and technical assistance, however, ultimately are vehicles of a country’s foreign policy (Sogge 2002). Aid agencies are “part of an institutional framework … that continues to fall short of its potentials. [Aid is] about politics and, crucially, the relationship between donors and recipients – not only at the higher echelons, but at all levels of contact” (Wedel 1998, 6). According to Montgomery (1962, 9), “foreign aid a political instrument of U.S. policy is here to stay because of its usefulness and flexibility.” Foreign aid is about states and individuals.

To conclude, if not to caution, we can go back to Smuckler and Berg’s (1988, 1) wise words: “The world of the 1990s, and that of the Twenty-first century, will be substantially different from one in which a worldwide enterprise known as ‘foreign aid’ was launched forty years ago. New circumstances make the concept of foreign aid less appropriate. To much of Asia and Latin America, the concept of ‘cooperation for development’ fits better. By developmental cooperation, we mean that we share responsibilities widely and appropriately.”


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