The Prince on Foreign Aid

The United States spends billions of dollars a year to provide foreign aid around the world.

A good amount of the money goes for various disaster relief programs for whatever tsunamis, hurricanes, and the like occur. As these events occur everywhere and without warning the money goes to the nations affected.

However a still greater amount of foreign and military aid goes to a preselected number of nations. These nations are often selected for a specific reason. Egypt for instance has long received about $2 billion in aid annually under the condition that they recognize, and leave Israel alone.

Pakistan is another country that gets about $2 billion per annum, there’s for the purpose of assisting us with our war in Afghanistan.

These are the two of the biggest recipients of US aid though there are a great many countries who receive varying amounts of aid. However none of them receive as much money and are as controversial. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly is a book that chronicles some of those logically and effectively.

The controversy of course is that these nations are not friendly to the United States despite our best efforts to buy that loyalty. Furthermore how much of the aid money actually goes to its intended cause and how much goes to lining the pockets of those in charge is highly dubious.

From Pakistan to Egypt to Sudan and Haiti we must ask why are we spending this much money to get nothing but a half-baked effort in return?

To answer this we will ask Niccolo Machiavelli and his book The Prince.  Mr Machiavelli is it better to be loved or feared?

It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

There you have it. Rather than being a push over who tries to buy favor and cannot enforce its demands the United States should rather compel these nations that it is in their best interests, and the interest of their leaders health, to play ball with the United States. It is ten kinds of foolishness to think that you can buy loyalty from someone who is still the friend of your enemy and whose true sentiments lie in such a manner.
To be it another way, using a historical quote, “Walk softly and carry a big stick”.


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Posted on January 26, 2013, in Problems to Ponder and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is another example of the grand chasm between the beliefs of Americans and the mechnics and process of the US government. This is a Euro problem as well (actually worse there). Pakistan has been lying and stealing for the US for decades. First, they lied about ‘not working on nukes’, and then they lied about OBL’s whereabouts.

  2. Perhaps the objective isn’t as much to “buy friendship” as to promote reliance on the milky teet? It worked for Democrats…

    • That might be a secondary hope but i don’t think its a factor. The recipients of foreign aid change over time depending on politics which is why Pakistan became so near and dear a cause to American politicians starting in 2002.

      However in some cases where a dictator uses the aid money to pay off his supporters the money can be a form of the teet since when the money goes they usually go shortly after.

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