U.S. foreign aid selfish and driven by egoistic motivations: report

2024-04-22 Editor : Zhao Li ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- The United States has always prided itself as the world’s largest foreign aid donor. However, in fact, its foreign aid has always taken maximizing the interests as its fundamental starting and ending point, while ignoring the practical interests and long-term development of recipient developing countries, according to a report released by Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Being selfish, arrogant, hypocritical and ugly, and wantonly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs for its own benefits, U.S. foreign aid brings about seriously negative impacts on world peace and development, the report said. Here are some details:

In 1949, then U.S. President Truman put forward the Point Four Program of economic and technical assistance for the underdeveloped areas in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which marked the beginning of U.S. foreign aid to developing countries.

Throughout the past 70 years, the primary goal of U.S. foreign aid has always been to serve its own interests and safeguard its own security. Goals such as promoting global poverty alleviation and development have always given way to U.S. strategic goals, which disguise the real intention of U.S. aid. U.S. political scientist Hans Morgenthau, the father of the realist theory of international relations, pointed out that “foreign aid is no different from diplomatic or military policy or propaganda. They are all weapons in the political armory of the nation.” In 1966, U.S. international relations expert David Baldwin published Foreign Aid and American Foreign Policy, which clearly pointed out that “…foreign aid is first and foremost a technique of statecraft. It is, in other words, a means by which one nation tries to get other nations to act in desired ways.”

Historically, U.S. foreign aid has been driven by realist theories of its own national interests, with the starting point and ultimate goal being the maximization of national interests. During the cold war, the main goal of U.S. foreign aid was to stop the spread of communism and to consolidate U.S. hegemony. After the 9/11 attack, the goal of U.S. foreign aid shifted to global anti-terrorism to ensure the national security. During the Trump administration, U.S. advocated “America First”, and U.S. foreign aid was deeply influenced by populism and conservatism, ignoring its responsibility as a developed country to narrow the North-South divide and other development issues, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change and World Health Organization for a time, hastily reducing or even cutting contributions to important multilateral institutions, demanding other countries to shoulder more responsibility. All above mentioned undermines the international development cooperation.

At present, U.S. not only unabashedly proclaims its self-serving intention to provide foreign aid, but also pushes aid to the main battlefield of great power games. In the U.S. President’s budget requests of the past three years, the foreign aid budget has been rising year by year, focusing on the achievement of U.S. strategic and security objectives. Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said, the President’s budget request is a reflection of the critical importance of development and humanitarian assistance in advancing U.S. interests around the world, and the relevant investment will bring huge returns to our national security and our economy. The Joint Strategic Plan for FY2022-2026 issued by the U.S. State Department and USAID proposes five strategic goals, including renewing U.S. leadership, promoting global prosperity and shape an international environment in which the U.S. can thrive, strengthening democratic institutions, upholding universal values, and promoting human dignity, all of which reflect that the primary goal of aid is to safeguard U.S. interests. For the first time in history, the Administrator of USAID has been appointed as a permanent member of the White House National Security Council, underscoring the importance of aid in pursuing the U.S. national security strategy. Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis confessed, “Modern foreign aid is not charity. It is a strategic and an investment in a stronger America abroad.” The article in The Economist hit the point about the work done by USAID: “there was never any pretense of altruism.” Maura O'Neill, a former innovation chief at the agency, said USAID’s goal was to “catalyze more South Koreas and less North Koreas.”

The egoistic motive has led to the long-term perpetuation of U.S. aid by domestic politics and its global strategy, with a total disregard for the vital interests and actual needs of developing countries. Rama Yade, senior director of Africa Center, Atlantic Council, pointed out that U.S. has traditionally focused on security priorities in its African engagement. The Cold-War vision not only dominates perceptions in the public and private realms, but also distracts from the authentic economic and strategic opportunities the continent offers investors in the 21st century. The impact of the 9/11 attack has strengthened this approach over the past two decades. Most recently, the U.S. has seen Africa as a battleground for competition with China, ignoring that the continent’s nations have their own strategic interests.

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