Counter-Terrorism Argument For U.S. Foreign Aid Could Contribute To Xenophobia

Washington Post: This common argument for U.S. foreign aid is actually quite xenophobic
William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University

“…The counter-terrorism argument for foreign aid after 9/11 indeed succeeded for a long time at increasing and then sustaining the U.S. foreign aid budget. However, the continued reliance on this national security argument by people such as Gates has now left aid extremely vulnerable to deep cuts, even while that argument has generated collateral damage in other areas. First, the link from aid to counter-terrorism never had any evidence behind it. … Second, the argument falsely generalized that the nationals of the poorest countries … were prone to terrorism, which has at least in small part contributed to today’s toxic xenophobia toward refugees and migrants from those countries. … I agree with Gates that there are some good programs, especially in health, that are likely to be a real loss for needy individuals if they are cut. There are other bad kinds of aid — especially official aid for corrupt dictators — but the cuts are unlikely to distinguish between good and bad aid. Far more important, I lament how the aid narrative unintentionally reinforced xenophobia toward the same people that were the main intended beneficiaries of aid. Let’s transcend our pettier squabbles about aid to come together in affirming the equal dignity and worth of all persons, regardless of religion, income level, or nation of origin” (3/31).

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