Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


US Emergency/Dev. Aid Comes with Strings Attached

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Jan. 10, 2005
http://www.btlonline.org
*******************

U.S. Emergency and Development Aid Comes with Many Strings Attached

Interview with Tom Barry, policy director of Foreign Policy in Focus, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Listen in RealAudio: http://www.btlonline.org/barry011405.ram

In response to the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean that has claimed more than 140,000 lives, President Bush initially announced that the U.S. would contribute $15 million to the relief effort. But, after worldwide criticism of what many viewed as a meager amount, the U.S. contribution quickly climbed to $35 million and then $350 million. The money will come from the budget of the Agency for International Development, or USAID, as well as other accounts.

As of Jan. 3, the Bush administration had declined to request additional money from Congress as the funds will come from existing accounts. But there is growing concern that this could deplete funds earmarked for victims of future natural disasters, war or famine. Additionally, it's not uncommon that the announcement of a generous donation makes headlines, but the follow-through is weak or non-existent. Although Japan has contributed $500 million to aid in the tsunami disaster, exceeding the U.S. commitment by $150 million, President Bush can rightfully claim that the U.S. donates more total dollars than any other country to worldwide humanitarian relief. But it's also true that the U.S. is the stingiest of all developed nations in the charitable aid it provides annually as a percentage of its gross domestic product.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Tom Barry, policy director of Foreign Policy in Focus, which is a joint project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Relations Center. He discusses the substantial political and economic strings attached to U.S. foreign aid, and alternative policies that could enhance the nation's true security needs.

TOM BARRY: Oftentimes the U.S. promises economic aid as a result of public pressure, for example, promises to combat the AIDS crisis in Africa. Historically, these promises of aid, what they’ve hidden are the U.S. economic ties, that aid has been tied to the sale of U.S. products, that two-thirds or three-fourths of U.S. economic aid is tied to the sale of U.S. products. More recently, the restrictions on U.S. aid have been tied to political purposes, that the governments must be in accord with U.S. national security strategy. And this is quite striking in recent documents from USAID, that the lead sentences now refer to the U.S. national security, that U.S. economic aid must correspond to U.S. national security purposes, as well as historically the U.S. national interests, which have been defined more economically.

BETWEEN THE LINES: What are the differences between emergency aid and long-term development aid?

TOM BARRY: Long-term development aid has consistently, since the early ’90s, been declining, because the U.S. has switched development aid into more security aid. We see on the graphs that we are now down, in terms of total economic aid, to the levels of the height of the Cold War in 1982. Emergency aid is separate from development aid, it’s more discretional, and it’s generally been used for U.S. food aid and some logistical aid. But U.S. development aid has not only declined, but, despite the rhetoric of the USAID -- that it’s for broad economic development, it’s very restricted to providing support for privatization programs, structural adjustment programs -- and if these countries not only do not apply these programs, they will not receive the aid, but they now also have to be in accord with U.S. national security strategy. It’s interesting -- even in the strategic plan that you would have never seen this before, that the lead word is “security, democracy, prosperity” -- that U.S. aid has changed since its origins, that it would have been “prosperity” first, “prosperity” leading certainly, with an intent to increase U.S. national security interests around the world, but not leading with security – security being an end result. Security is now the principle determinant of how U.S. aid is spent. If a country does not agree with U.S. war on terrorism, it does not receive aid.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Tom Barry, where is this $350 million going to come from within the budget?

TOM BARRY: There’s a fund for humanitarian assistance and emergency assistance and it’ll be drawn from this fund. My understanding of it is that it won’t be all dollars, that it will be in materials as well. The striking thing as you mentioned about the $350 million -- which is certainly not corresponding to the need in the region -- is that it went from a low promise initially to this much higher figure because of public pressure. And in my opinion, the U.S. national security and national interest would be well-served by a much higher figure rather than where economic aid is now directed – to the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel, where the bulk of U.S. economic aid is being directed, even in terms of national security, of building support, for example, in a country like Indonesia or Sri Lanka, of building support among a Muslim population to have a clear expression – and that would not be only in terms of the dollar amount, but the symbolism of President Bush traveling to the region, which he has declined to do.

BETWEEN THE LINES: So does emergency aid have to meet the same criteria as development aid under U.S. AID guidelines?

TOM BARRY: Yes, in its strategic plan it says there are more humanitarian crises than we can deal with, we need to look at what is in our strategic interest, and that we need to prioritize areas of humanitarian crises or failed states, that may affect U.S. national security. A word that now permeates USAID documents is effectiveness, and effectiveness means not just does aid help people, but does aid further U.S. national security and U.S. national interest -- that has never been so closely defined, so if there is a humanitarian crisis that is regarded as outside of U.S. national security interests, that would receive a lower priority.

Tom Barry is policy director of Foreign Policy in Focus and co-author of "The Soft War, The Uses and Abuses of U.S. Economic Aid." For more information, call (505) 388-0208 or visit the group's website at http://www.fpif.org

Related links: "Is the U.S. Stingy?" by Jim Lobe, OneWorld.net, Jan. 4, 2005

****************

Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Jan. 7, 2004. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Scott Harris and Anna Manzo.

****************

TO DONATE

We need your help to expand our distribution efforts! Please send your donation to:

Squeaky Wheel Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 110176 Trumbull, CT 06611

*** Please note: If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, please make your check out to our fiscal agent, The Center for Global Communications (or The Global Center) and send to the above address.***

****************

PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email betweenthelines@snet.net.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news