BOSTON — With campaign season underway, the American electorate once again tackles the spectacle of rhetoric and policy that will eventually inform our decisions at the ballot box. As more and more presidential hopefuls declare their candidacies, foreign policy has emerged as one of this campaign’ cycle’s touchstone issues. The current international climate suggests America’s continued involvement overseas, many wonder whether the Nation’s presence will be one of military intervention or economic development. We’ve compiled a list of how some of the most talked-about candidates shape up when it comes to supporting economic aid and development over military operations in some of the world’s most impoverished nations.
Marco Rubio: Having announced his bid for the Presidency mid-April, Marco Rubio, a junior Senator from Florida whose conservative politics and aggressive foreign policy have made him a darling amongst some die-hard conservatives, addressed his foreign policy doctrine during a May 13 speech in which he outlined a three-pronged approach to maintaining peace and “vital interests of the United States” overseas.
The “three pillars”, of the Rubio’s doctrine consist of increasing military funding in times of both war and peace, promoting globalization to support the economy and promote “moral clarity regarding America’s core values.”
Though Rubio’s foreign policy is decidedly interventionist, blogger Elias Groll noted how the politician has come out against reducing the foreign aid budget. Speaking at the Brookings Institute, Rubio said, “Faced with historic deficits and a dangerous national debt, there has been increasing talk of reducing our foreign aid budget… we need to remember that these international coalitions that we have the opportunity to lead are not just military ones, they can also be humanitarian ones. In every region of the world, we should always search for ways to use U.S. aid and humanitarian assistance to strengthen our influence, the effectiveness of our leadership, and the service of our interests and ideals.”
Rand Paul: Son of former Presidential candidate and libertarian mouthpiece Ron Paul, Rand Paul is a physician and politician currently making a run for the 2016 White House. Like his father, Rand favors small government and is socially conservative.
Rand Paul in his 2012 budget proposal cut $500 billion of foreign aid funding in sake of focusing on the domestic economic crisis. The National Journal reported that Paul, in July 2013 sponsored the “Egyptian Military Coup Act of 2013.” The act, which eventually failed 86-to-13, would have allocated the $1.5 billion in military aid for Egypt to domestic infrastructure projects.
In his budget proposal the year before, in 2011, Paul expressed his belief that foreign aid to Israel would only perpetuate the country’s dependence on foreign investment, and first advocated its complete termination, before proposing foreign aid spending be capped at $5 billion annually.
In an interview with Fox reporter Kirsten Powers, Rand Paul said: “My opinion has been we shouldn’t borrow money from China to send it to any country. Pakistan, Israel or any other country. But I also realized that things will have to be done gradually and if we are going to try to eliminate or reduce foreign aid, why don’t we start with the countries that hate us or burn our flag.”
Ted Cruz: Cruz, in his time as a junior Senator from Texas, was a domestic policy advisor to former president George W. Bush. Previous to his time in government, Cruz was an adjunct professor of the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.
Ted Cruz has been known to support military intervention in his approach to foreign policy. In his keynote address at the 2013 CPAC convention, Cruz said, “we need to stop sending foreign aid to nations that hate us. Just two weeks ago President Obama cancelled White House tours and sent $250 million to Egypt with no conditions, no strings attached, nothing focused on U.S. national security–simply wrote a check.”
But as a member of the 113th Congress, Cruz supported bill H.J.124, which, amongst measures to fund U.S. border patrol and more authorized relief funding to help quell the spread of Ebola in Africa. Though fervently opposed to providing aid to Egypt, Cruz consistently supports military funding for Israel, one of America’s last remaining allies in the region.
Jeb Bush: The two-term former-Governor from Florida, has yet to announce his candidacy, but it is widely accepted that he will try to and become the third Bush to occupy the Office of the Presidency.
Bush is the only Florida governor to ever successfully complete two full four-year terms in office, but he has little experience on the national stage. Bush considered a run for Senate in 2010, but instead backed another Floridian political and Presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio.
“American leadership projected consistently and grounded in principle has been a benefit to the world. In the post-World War II era, the United States has helped hundreds of millions of people out of poverty,” Bush said.
Jeb Bush supported President Obama’s bill to provide an additional $1 billion in foreign aid spending in Central America.
Bernie Sanders: A political veteran from Vermont who spent over 15 years in Congress, Bernie Sanders is this election cycle’s only socialist candidate. Sanders is known for supporting a far more liberal agenda than the only other Democratic candidate officially in the running, Hillary Clinton.
As far back as 2000, Sanders voted to expropriate $156 million from the U.S. military budget to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help advance the Millennium Development Goals by establishing funding for very poor, very indebted countries like Sudan and Somalia.
Sanders in 2001 co-sponsored the Harvest for Hunger bill, a multi-year initiative to halt and reverse famine in sub-Saharan Africa by organizing the U.S. and other donor nations’ governments’ to support relief strategies for a period of 10 years.
Hillary Clinton: The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton is a longtime advocate of foreign aid and development, and has worked closely with the federal office USAID over her years in the Senate and as Secretary of State. In a 2013 interview with New York Magazine, Clinton said the United States international relations should be concerned with both diplomacy and development.
As Secretary of State, “I thought it was essential that as we restore America’s standing in the world and strengthen our global leadership again, we needed what I took to calling ‘smart power’ to elevate American diplomacy and development and reposition them for the 21st century. That meant that we had to take a hard look at how both State and A.I.D. operated,” said Clinton.
Clinton supports the belief that foreign investment is good for not only those nations’ on the receiving end of aid funding, but the U.S. economy as well. During her role as the Secretary of State she said, “As we help these nations meet their own challenges and grow their own economies, their men and women will buy their first cars, their first computers, and everything from movies to medical equipment. And many new consumers will buy them from us.”
– Amanda Burke
Sources: On the Issues, Devex, National Journal, The Atlantic, Medium