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Jeffery Sereno July 27, 2011 AP U.S. Government and Politics Mr.


Effects of Foreign Aid in the Middle East

Effects of Foreign Aid in the Middle East Lee Hamilton, a member of the U.S. Security Council once said, Foreign aid is neither a failure nor a panacea. It is, instead, an important tool of American policy that can serve the interests of the United States and the world if wisely administered. While Hamilton said this in 1987, this idea has become the underlying theme behind Americas foreign policy. In the past century, Americas support has extended to all parts of the globe, but for the past few decades in particular, the Middle East has been the major focus behind Americas foreign policy. Excluding the funds related to ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the three major beneficiaries include Israel, Egypt and Pakistan. The foreign aid given to these countries come in two shapes: economic aid and military aid. Through the use of this assistance, the U.S. has several goals, which it in turn plans to accomplish. These objectives include: seeking stability in nations with abundant energy reserves, calming volatile relationships between states, and developing secure alliances with state governments as America looks further into its future. Americas foreign policy stretches back to the era of George Washington, however historians characterize the acceleration of U.S. foreign policy during World War I. Under President Woodrow Wilson, America entered the First World War in 1917. Entering this war during its close proved to have major benefits for the U.S.; America had defeated its enemies while it had increased its international reputation. Developing from this war came Wilsons idealistic Wilsonianism program of spreading democracy and fighting militarism. Wilsons initiative plans established several treaties with adversaries from the war, and erected the League

of Nations. These policies remained prosperous until the Wall Street Crash of 1929. From 1932 to 1938, America was forced to retreat back into a policy of isolationism, sinking foreign policy for the upcoming years. When World War II sparked in 1939, America was provided with an opportunity to once again expand its foreign policy. America provided Lend-Lease grants of $50 Billion to its allies from World War I, helping boost back its economy. Over the next two decades, American Foreign Policy slowly expanded until the Cold War, which in the end proved to be only a small hurdle in Americas expansion. Then in 1961, Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act that reorganized the U.S. foreign assistance programs by separating military and non-military aid. The Act mandated the creation of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to administer economic assistance programs. While some argue that this act was simply a bureaucratic reshuffling, it signified a recommitment to increase the help of overseas development. According to their website, USAID was established to unify assistance efforts, to provide a new focus on the needs of a changing world, and to assist other countries in maintaining their independence and become selfsupporting. When this transition occurred, U.S. foreign aid became one of the largest parts of Americas foreign policy. Today, one of the major objectives behind Americas foreign aid is the desire to stabilize the abundance of energy reserves in the Middle East. Despite the recent progress made in the renewable energy field, petroleum still remains the most dominant energy source and is predicted to be for the next quarter-century. In addition, current unrest in this geographical region has proven to disrupt the supply

lines that America relies upon heavily. The past drive for fossil fuel energy has led to wars, overthrow of democratically elected leaders, puppet governments and even dictatorships. Through the use of economic and military aid, the U.S. plans to stabilize the energy supplies in these regions. Recent protests in Cairo, Egypt have illustrated the need for greater foreign aid in areas of instability. Six days after the revolution began in Tahrir Square, a single barrel of oil soared up to $100, the highest it has been in two years (Commodities and the Middle East, The Economist). While Egypt is only a small producer and importer of black gold, it is well known as one of the main transporters of the product, shipping it from Europe to the to the western hemisphere. About five percent of the global oil supply is transported through the Suez Canal, located in the northeastern part of the country. Speculators showed their anxiety over the functionality of this canal as the protests drew nearer and nearer. While the canal never actually closed, the fear that it would, caused the spike in prices. If the U.S. would have done more in terms of foreign aid to stabilize the region, maybe this incident could have been avoided. Egypt is currently the second biggest recipient to receive U.S. foreign aid receiving $2.7 billion in 2009. It is estimated that 56% of oil reserves are located in the Middle East, and while Egypt is just one country, civil unrest has been expanding in this region. If the U.S. implements more foreign aid to the countries that truly need it, our greatest interests will be secure.

Despite recent advancements in forms of alternative energy, it is still remains evident that oil will be the main form of energy for the next 25 years. Until the time comes that the U.S. can switch its dependence from oil, it is necessary to develop good relationships with the countries that supply it and transport it. Three of these major contributors are Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Kazakhstan. Stabilizing these governments through economic and military aid will hopefully save the countries from the corruption and greed that come with the drive for fossil fuels. While economic returns have a major influence in foreign policy, Americans also feel a moral obligation to support its allies. Ever since 1976, Israel has been the greatest recipient behind American aid receiving between $2 billion and $3 billion every year. People in the United States question if the general commitment given to Israel, should sacrifice Americas relationships with Arab and Muslim governments. Others assert that Israel remains a strategic ally, and the U.S. must maintain relations with Israel to strengthen presence in the Middle East. The debate over this question impacts the overall assistance given to Israel every year. Ever since the State of Israel was established in 1948 a U.S. policy of sympathy and support has been bestowed upon the country. Israel has become a small, yet powerful military power, dependent on the United States for its military and economic strength. In total, about one-third of all foreign aid in recent years, is given to Israel. While some of the money granted to Israeli is used for economic developments, the vast majority of U.S. assistance is acquired in military aid. In 2010, Israel was given $2.7 billion in military assistance, which accounted for 22

percent of its defense budget (U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East, Congressional Research Service). To many Americans, it may appear as if the U.S. is funding a foreign war that is ultimately creating more violence in the Middle East. Neither the Israelis, nor the Palestinians are a completely good, truthful nation. However, the Jewish influence on Americans, and the current power structures in the Middle East has persuaded Congress to aid Israel. U.S. foreign assistance given to Israel is not meant to encourage war between the two states, but rather provide Israel with a source of defense as they take a path closer to future peace. As the Obama Administrations 2011 Foreign Operations committee summarized, U.S. assistance is also aimed at ensuring for Israel the security it requires to make concessions necessary for comprehensive regional peace (U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East, Congressional Research Service). Calming these volatile interstate relationships would come back to benefit the U.S. in many ways. Even among Americans who support aid to Israel, many do not appreciate just how close the strategic relationship is between the United States and its democratic ally, and how greatly both countries benefit from that relationship. Both the U.S. and Israel cooperate extensively on defense, intelligence and economic matters. By doing so, they advance their common interests of promoting freedom, fighting extremism, and seeking peace and prosperity. While about 90 percent of aid given to Israel is used solely on their military, 74 percent of this aid is being used to buy goods from the United States. This illustrates that giving assistance to the nation, will in turn stimulate Americas economy.

Many new joint programs with Israelis high-tech military industry have evolved from this relationship. The new Arrow ballistic missile defense system is an advanced long-range protection device. Israel and the U.S. shared the cost of development equally for this machine, and the joint venture emphasizes the possible advancements when the two countries work together. Americas final objective out of foreign aid is to establish secure relationships with developing countries. According to the Congressional Research Office, about 150 countries receive various amounts of foreign aid from the United States. If we assist theses countries now as they begin to grow, we can insure strong relations in the future. In 2004, Congress appropriated $39 billion to foreign aid, the largest amount allocated in the past 30 years. The majority of Americans consider this amount too much chiefly because they do not realize the actual percentage America spends on foreign policy. The amount of Americas financial aid in terms of gross national product, accounts to less than 1 percent of the total federal spending. If compared to the other 22 industrialized nations, the U.S. falls dead last. Since the end of World War II, America has been fortunate enough to have the resources to be able to promote other nations with the long-term goals the U.S. deems important. However current U.S. foreign policies do not stretch far enough to accomplish these objectives. In 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George Bush broadened his national security strategy, and added global development as one of the top three ways to strengthen national security. This step to expand U.S. foreign policy was the first time that the use of financial assistance, would serve as a means to fortify the nation security.

In later years of the Bush administration, a new objective developed: spreading and assisting democracies in all parts of the world. Democracies in these regions provide greater stability, and reduce the violence between different groups driving for power. With this type of government in place, America is able to develop stronger, more secure relationship with the government resulting in better foreign policy. As a country based on the generous support from others, America has an obligation to assist other nations as they begin to develop. When early America sought to break free from the rule of the British, France became one of our main allies, supporting us with military aid. Similar to how America needed this aid to survive; undeveloped countries in the world today need the support of America to become independent nations. This assistance comes in the form of economic aid as well as the predominant military aid used to increase the levels of safety. Through the use of support given to countries in the Middle East, the U.S. has several goals, which it in turn plans to accomplish. These objectives include: seeking stability in nations with abundant energy reserves, calming volatile relationships between states, and developing secure alliances with state governments. As the most prosperous nation in the world today, it is Americas responsibility to lend a helping hand to the countries that are reaching for it. To hold the position as the world leader in todays society, America must take the first step to advance the rest of the world.

Current U.S. foreign policy is under the spotlight for debate. As one of the most influential countries in the world today, America has a responsibility to assist underdeveloped countries. Providing these countries with the tools necessary to become independent, democratic nations will, create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community (U.S. State Department).