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New Budget Cuts: Think Twice Before Cutting Foreign Aid

Do the risks of stopping foreign aid outweigh the need to balance the budget?

By the time the new budget is finally resolved, foreign aid will inevitably feel the axe. However, the United States does not actually spend that much on aid at all. According to a recent report by the Guardian, most Americans overestimate how much aid is actually given to developing nations; some estimating that we give up to 25 percent of our budget to developing countries, but that number is actually less than one percent of our total income.

While the deficit is growing and the United States has to act to maintain our economy, other post-industrial nations (the U.K. and Australia) that have made extensive cuts, but also made a point to maintain the amount of foreign aid they deliver:

The US is one of the big spenders on official development assistance in gross dollar terms, but when measured according to donors' national income (GNI), it comes across as stingy. According to OECD figures from 2009, Britain's development assistance was about 0.5% of GNI while in the US it was at 0.21%.


A substantial drop in the aid we deliver to developing countries threatens our relationship to these nations and risks instability in large parts of the world. The Defense Department, whose budget is going up, agrees:

[The Secretary of Defense's] message, and that of many of the military brass, is that cutting aid jeopardises US national security. It also creates a greater vacuum in so-called fragile states, which can easily be filled by those who do not have US interests at heart. There is no doubt that foreign assistance helps ward off future military conflicts.


While the risks posed to our country through the instability that a cut in aid can bring, it also hurts millions of people who rely on these funds. While our country is attempting to balance the books and attempt to cut back, we have to ask questions about the ramifications of cuts. Will cutting a program that only costs us less than one percent of our budget really help our economy, in view of the ramifications that would affect both the people living in those countries and ourselves through risks that may develop when these countries no longer receive what they so vitally need?

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