You’ve no doubt heard this quip: Foreign aid is taking from poor people in a rich country and giving it to rich people in a poor country. It’s nothing short of international welfare. Conservatives are traditionally opposed to national welfare and state-wide welfare. How much more should we be opposed to international welfare? Does foreign aid even accomplish its stated goals? Has giving more money to dictators that we helped prop up actually helped to stabilize the region or just make matters worse?
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul wants to cut foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan. He’s been pushing his bill S. 3576 for weeks now and threatened to tie up other pending legislation in a filibuster until his bill got discussion and a vote. He said from the Senate floor, “Some argue that without foreign aid we’ll have war. I’m arguing that because of foreign aid we have war.” Further, he said, “In no way should the United States government be sending money to governments who are not our ally, who blatantly do not respect our country, and who work to compromise the safety of our allies and citizens abroad.”
One of Paul’s more outspoken critics was South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He said that we should continue to engage the Middle East and that he trusts that the money is going to the right people in that region. He argued, “The people I want to give the aid to and support to are the ones that I have some hope that I can live with in peace. The radical Islamists know that they cannot win if we stay in the region.”
Where is the Constitutional justification for foreign aid? On what moral grounds can our government take from us in taxes to give to foreign countries in order to fulfill its own geopolitical agenda? How can we even spend money on foreign aid when we are $16 trillion in debt? Don’t we have other priorities?
It’s not like money is going to feed starving children, even though that’s how it is always sold to people. Money goes to fund “fair and democratic elections,” where we try to get our dictator of choice elected. Once the dictator is elected, we continue to give funding to him to spend on his military, his weaponry or just to support his own lavish lifestyle. As long as he gets money from us, he’ll be our “ally,” and he’ll do as we tell him. If he starts to deviate from the path our government has prescribed for him, our government starts to make things difficult for him and eventually turn him into our enemy. Through a CIA-assisted military coup, we oust him and replace him with another who is more easily bought.
But this creates problems for us because the citizens in these countries don’t appreciate our government getting so involved in their political affairs and choosing their leaders for them. To them, that’s not very “fair and democratic.” They want to be able to elect their own leaders in the same way we elect our own leaders here. But politicians here are concerned that if we let these Middle Eastern citizens choose for themselves, our government might not be able to control their elected leaders.
I just found out Senator Paul’s bill didn’t do so well. Only 9 other senators voted for the legislation to cut foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan. You’d think that after the recent attacks and violence in the Middle East that our representatives would think twice about continuing to give funding to dictators who really aren’t our friends. Especially considering that Libyan officials may have been involved in the U.S. Consulate attack. They took money from us in foreign aid only to spend it on orchestrating an attack against us. Is this a policy that makes sense?