chapter  1
34 Pages

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF US FOREIGN AID: PAST AND Introduction

As the US struggles for influence in the world power arena, its foreign assistance program follows along as a willing and important appendage. In a precarious context, characterized increasingly by desperation policy responses to coups, counter-coups, terrorism and religious fanaticism, the lines between US foreign policy, foreign aid and trade activities become blurred. That foreign aid lacks autonomy among American public policies is harmful in several ways to US interests abroad and to the needs of the developing world. First, foreign aid may be erroneously credited for foreign policy power successes though development projects fail and underdevelopment may be increasing. Second, and more commonly, foreign aid is unjustly blamed for foreign policy failures. The rantings of a Khadafy are viewed by many as another failed foreign aid attempt, the cut-off of which penalizes the Libyan people and not their officialdom. Consistent with this, some believe that foreign aid is not criticized enough. “Who could be against aid to the less fortunate?” ask Bauer and Yamey (Thompson, 1983:119). “When aid advocates talk of the disappointing record of aid, they mean not that aid has been ineffective or damaging but that the amounts of aid have been insufficient.”