SEATTLE — The United States has been a key player on the world stage of international affairs since 1945, when it supported war-torn European economies and spearheaded the provision of aid through the Marshall Plan. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Afghanistan include international obligations, upholding international humanitarian laws, reaping the benefits of expanding into markets and bolstering trade globally.
Since the rise of the Taliban insurgency in 2001, the United States has been providing military and development aid to the country and working in collaboration with the Commander’s Emergency Response Program. Consequently, Afghanistan continues to be the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid and economic assistance. The Taliban group has been condemned internationally for its horrific war crimes against civilians even in the present day.
According to a CNBC report in 2016, U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan focuses on reconstruction efforts and repairing infrastructure. Since 2002, nearly $100 billion has poured in to support these initiatives. However, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Afghanistan may be impacted by the actions of the Trump administration. Recently, President Donald Trump announced that he planned to cut funding for humanitarian efforts by 30 percent.
Despite the budget cuts it has experienced, USAID still plays a pivotal role in providing foreign aid to Afghanistan. Along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, USAID is also spearheading the Promoting Value Chains-West project. The project will augment the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Afghanistan as it will help drive growth through employment and development of agriculture, the latter of which forms a significant proportion of Afghanistan’s export revenue annually. Improving Afghanistan’s trade balance could prove to be a long-term solution to downsizing poverty in the future.
USAID is also boosting private sector funding and support with management training and assistance. This has led to the creation of 289 public-private collaborations that are generating investments worth nearly $300 million.
The economic potential of developing countries remains high as exports are often more than 40 times the value of the aid provided by developed countries. As a result, sustaining foreign aid to Afghanistan to secure a good working and economic relationship is imperative. It can also provide an outlet for American goods and services in the future if the purchasing power of Afghanistan increases. This, in turn, could also be quite beneficial for the competitiveness of U.S. goods and services overseas. The American Chamber of Commerce is also promoting investment endeavors in Afghanistan.
Additionally, preserving national security remains a top priority for the U.S. as the fight in Afghanistan continues to be a sustained fight against the War on Terror declared in 2001. Given its proximity to the country, Pakistan remains a country especially vulnerable to homegrown terrorism and extremism. The Haqqani network, a radical wing of the Taliban, still remains a threat that could spread through the region and hinder U.S peace operations and self-interests in other countries.
The U.S. could also play an important role in cracking down on the widespread narcotics trade in Afghanistan. The opium market in the country has been expanding over the years and imperiling the vulnerable population. At the same time, drug trafficking is also becoming a major concern.
Overall, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Afghanistan can provide a strong foundation for growth and recovery needed in the country after decades of political instability, war, persecution and poverty.
– Shivani Ekkanath