The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on Foreign Aid

By on 2.5.11 | 5:30PM

With regard to my post yesterday on Senator Rand Paul and aid for Israel one reader's objections drew my attention. He begins by stating:

So we now have it on record that "conservative" Aaron supports foreign aid to Israel. Thanks for making that clear. What's next? Conservatives for tax increases and more social welfare spending?

I was not aware that supporting aid to Israel was grounds for expulsion from the conservative movement. If it was then there wouldn't be very many conservatives left in this country. Besides as Philip Klein has made abudantly clear, Israel receives military aid, not economic aid from the United States.

The reader goes on to argue:

A person has to be either for continuing foreign aid to every country or for ending it to every country. To be for ending foreign aid to every country except Israel is obnoxious special pleading.

This strikes me as a rather silly argument. The question of foreign aid isn't an either or proposition. Nor have I argued that we ought to end foreign aid to every country except Israel. I accept that our nation's fiscal situation is such that we have to modify our national defense and foreign policy commitments. Yet that doesn't mean we wantonly abandon them. To do so would be foolish, reckless and short-sighted. Fiscal crisis or not, the United States is still the world's most powerful nation and we cannot pretend otherwise. Consequently, in order to maintain that position it neccesitates providing aid abroad be it of an economic or military nature. Of course, there are some nations that are of greater strategic importance than others and this has to be taken into consideration when determining how we modify said national defense and foreign policy commitments.

One must also consider the wholesale abandonment of foreign aid could very well do more harm than good. While it might help the Treasury it would also have the effect of reducing our influence abroad and other players would be more than happy to fill the void be they other nations (i.e. Russia, China) or non-state actors (i.e. al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood). Our efforts to recede from the world stage could very well compromise our national security.

In the grand scheme of things, it is one thing to reduce foreign aid to every country, including Israel. Yet it is entirely another thing to eliminate foreign aid altogether as suggested by Senator Paul. His proposition is penny wise but a pound foolish. I am optimistic that Paul's Senate colleagues will recognize his proposal is wholly without merit and wisely reject it.

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