John Norris is the executive director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress. He previously served as the executive director of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress and was chief of political affairs for the U.N. Mission in Nepal back when the country was emerging from a decadelong war. Earlier in his career, John worked at the State Department and USAID.
In this third part of our series on American public opinion of foreign aid, now comes the question on most readers' minds: what does this wealth of polling data tell us about the public’s opinion of foreign assistance during the Trump presidency? And perhaps more importantly, what can and should the development community do about it?
In part two of this three part series, Devex contributor John Norris analyzes why Americans might think the aid budget is bigger than it is and offers insights that can make messaging around aid much more effective.
Despite all the sturm and drang, President Barack Obama successfully maintained the historic increase of U.S. assistance levels made during the Bush administration, a rather remarkable feat considering a global recession, ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and a Republican-led Congress that at times seemed to veer into nihilism.
On balance the Bush administration brought great sweeping, almost operatic, successes and failures and a nearly unrivaled boom in resources. It was a track record that naturally lent itself to discussions of legacies both good and bad.
USAID’s first three administrators from 1961 to 1969 had to contend with building an agency and shaping the direction it would take in the face of mounting bureaucracy. By the late 60s, the third administrator had to deal with a trifecta of challenges: population growth, famine and the Vietnam War.