To many of us it seems like a no-brainer; the idea of helping people in need. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. There are many controversial issues regarding foreign aid and interference and it is important to consider all the points before making the decisions.
The first question we need to ask ourselves is how far do we go and how much do we do? Sending money and resources is one thing. Sending manpower is another. If we do send personnel what kind do we send? If we look at our experience in the Middle East in the past decade we can all agree that maybe full scale militarization is not the best way to start. Yes, of course each situation is unique and requires its own personalized plan but while we may have the most advanced military in the world, we are far from infallible.
Next, from our own life experience, we can draw the point that getting big jobs done is much easier “with a little help from our friends”. We may be considered one of the richest countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can fix everyone’s problems ourselves. There are dozens of other nations looking to extend a helping hand. With an increasingly globalized economy, unilateral action and aid is not feasible anymore. We have friends, let’s utilize them.
While knowing when to intercede is very important, knowing when not to is just as crucial. A country whose people live by stringent religious codes are much more likely to reject help and this is not something that should be pressed. In the end, we may end up leaving a wake of damage, both institutionally and culturally, larger than they started with.
Similarly, throwing money at a country is never the best action. Corruption plagues many of these less developed governments and aid funds are being siphoned into personal bank accounts. The lack of transparency in foreign aid is a huge obstacle in tackling this issue.
The atmosphere of world politics is changing immensely. The balance of power is shifting and the United States is slowly losing its place as head honcho. We simply do not have the resources to be in a hundred places at once like we used to. It is difficult to come to terms with this, especially for middle aged Americans who have lived through the Cold War and witnessed the United States’ rise to hegemonic power. Our task in the coming years will be to realize and accept this shift and mold to our new role. We can still be a beacon of democracy, justice and liberty; but we are going to need our friends.