President Obama’s speech on counter-terrorism at National Defense University on May 23rd, the topic of foreign aid was discussed. The President noted, “I know that foreign aid is one of the least popular expenditures – even though it amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. But foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity. It is fundamental to our national security, and any sensible long-term strategy to battle extremism.”
Attempting to build strong and stable nations with foreign aid investments is a worthy and necessary task if the United States wants to continue fostering stability. This stability can be created not with military force but with the use of simple diplomacy and foreign assistance. The greater the investment into aid, the greater economic and social stability will result, creating a safer environment for diplomacy as well as bigger markets for new consumers.
The President continued his speech, saying, “For what we spent in a month in Iraq at the height of the war, we could be training security forces in Libya, maintaining peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, feeding the hungry in Yemen, building schools in Pakistan that offer an alternative to extremism, and creating reservoirs of goodwill that marginalize extremists.” This attitude towards aid and peace is one that many should follow and emulate, as it would bring far greater hope and stability to the developing world than any number of military operations.
In Yemen, around 5 million people, or half of the population, suffer from severe hunger and need assistance, making malnutrition in children a huge issue. The UN World Food Programme that could be used to help these people is facing low funding for operation in Yemen as well as places like Syria and South Sudan. A continued reduction of foreign aid will only make things worse for those in need. Obama closed his speech by saying, “foreign assistance is a tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars that our assistance might ultimately prevent.” This advice needs to be followed up by the support of constituents as well as legislators in the hopes that the U.S., as a country, can work together to help end global poverty and hunger.
– Sarah Rybak
Source: Examiner,The White House