Ben Barber to US: 'Rethink' what you hope to accomplish with aid

Pallets of humanitarian supplies from the U.S. to be delivered in Japan for earthquake and tsunami victims. Photo by: Fidel C. Hart / DVIDSHUB / CC BY

Is U.S. foreign aid meant for national security or for helping the poor?

This is the question journalist Ben Barber asked in an opinion piece for Huffington Post. He cited instances when the United States used aid to influence governments’ decisions.

The examples have been all over the news: Suspended food aid to North Korea over a failed missile launch, and blocked aid to Sri Lanka over “ignored” U.S. investigation demands on Tamil Tiger rebels. The United States also threatened to cut off aid to Egypt over the crackdown on foreign nongovernmental organizations early this year.

These actions reflect the United States’ push to put diplomacy and development together with defense. But, Barber argues, the United States needs to “rethink” what it hopes to accomplish with its aid. After all, the people who will suffer most from aid cuts are those who have no control or influence over their governments’ actions.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.