If You Want Foreign Aid From The US, Then You Better Dance To Our Tune

Some People seem to be upset that the US is using foreign aid to sway votes on the UN Security Council:

“Kofi Annan, the outgoing UN Secretary-General, expressed his frustration at the power the US wields over the UN in his parting speech last week. In a detailed analysis of 50 years of data, Harvard University’s Ilyana Kuziemko and Eric Werker provide the clearest evidence yet that money is used by the council’s richest member to grease the wheels of diplomacy.

Anti-poverty campaigners reacted angrily to the findings. ‘Aid should go to the people who need it, not as a political sweetener,’ said Duncan Green of Oxfam. ‘In recent years most rich countries have been making progress on this, but showering bribes on developing countries just because they sit on the UN security council is clearly a step backwards.’

Charities often complain that the US uses its aid as a political tool, and this new evidence of what the authors call ‘vote-buying’ will raise fears about whether the surge of aid money that was promised at last year’s Gleneagles G8 summit will be fairly spent.

Ten of the 15 seats on the security council are filled for two years at a time, by rotation. Kuziemko and Werker found that, in years when they have a seat, countries get an average of more than £8m extra in foreign aid from the US.

‘I don’t think it’s surprising this goes on; but I wonder whether countries being aware that it goes on might have some salutary effect,’ Kuziemko said.

Countries with a security council seat also receive an average of £500m extra from the UN itself, most of it channelled through its children’s fund, Unicef, over which the US traditionally has been able to exert control. President George Bush recently provoked controversy by appointing a close political ally, former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, as Unicef’s chief.

When there is a controversial vote in prospect, the premium for countries with a security council seat is even higher. US aid surges by as much as 170 per cent, bringing in a £23m windfall, while the UN spends an extra £4m.”

The reality is that there are so many poor countries out there that need our help that we can’t help them all and truthfully, very few countries seem to appreciate the help we give them anyway. Just to name one very prominent example, we helped Afghanistan fight off the Soviets and were supplying the majority of their food — and yet, where was Al-Qaeda based out of on 9/11/2001? Afghanistan.

So, were it up to me, every single dime of US AID — other than the most basic emergency relief after major disasters — would come with major strings attached to it. Our attitude should be, “You want our money? Then what are you going to do for us to earn it?” I’m not saying that we should get a dollar for dollar return on our money since that’s obviously not going to happen with poor countries, but at a minimum, we should demand that these countries not bite the hand that’s feeding them. If the government of country X wants to vote against us at the UN and have their state run media criticize us every day, well, that’s fine, but we shouldn’t be giving them foreign aid.

As to these nations on the UN Security Council, if they want foreign aid from the United States, then we should require them to vote our way on every important issue, pure and simple. If they don’t like that, no problem, there are plenty of other poor nations who can use our help.

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