الخميس. مايو 30th, 2024

The United States has always prided itself as the world’s largest foreign aid donor. However, in fact, U.S. foreign aid has always taken maximizing the interests of the U.S. as its fundamental starting and ending point, while ignoring the practical interests and long-term development of recipient developing countries. Being selfish, arrogant, hypocritical and ugly, and wantonly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs for its own benefits, U.S. foreign aid brings about seriously negative impacts on world peace and development.

Based on facts and data, by presenting the motivation, behaviors, effects and impacts of U.S. foreign aid, this report exposes the hypocritical nature and baneful influence of U.S. foreign aid, and amply validates the ugly intentions and serious harm of U.S. acting arbitrarily in the name of aid, upholding the unipolar hegemony, disrupting the international development order, and undermining global prosperity and stability.

◆In 1949, then U.S. President Truman put forward the Point Four Program of economic and technical assistance for the underdeveloped areas in Asia, Afric a and Latin America, which marked the beginning of U.S. foreign aid to developing countries.

◆Throughout the past 70 years, the primary goal of U.S. foreign aid has always been to serve its own interests and safeguard its own security. Goals such as promoting global poverty alleviation and development have always given way to U.S. strategic goals, which disguise the real intention of U.S. aid. U.S. political scientist Hans Morgenthau, the father of the realist theory of international relations, pointed out that “foreign aid is no different from diplomatic or military policy or propaganda. They are all weapons in the political armory of the nation.” In 1966, U.S. international relations expert David Baldwin published Foreign Aid and American Foreign Policy, which clearly pointed out that “…foreign aid is first and foremost a technique of statecraft. It is, in other words, a means by which one nation tries to get other nations to act in desired ways.”

◆Historically, U.S. foreign aid has been driven by realist theories of its own national interests, with the starting point and ultimate goal being the maximization of national interests. During the cold war, the main goal of U.S. foreign aid was to stop the spread of communism and to consolidate U.S. hegemony. After the 9/11 attack, the goal of U.S. foreign aid shifted to global anti-terrorism to ensure the national security. During the Trump administration, U.S. advocated “America First”, and U.S. foreign aid was deeply influenced by populism and conservatism, ignoring its responsibility as a developed country to narrow the North-South divide and other development issues, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change and World Health Organization for a time, hastily reducing or even cutting contributions to important multilateral institutions, demanding other countries to shoulder more responsibility. All above mentioned undermines the international development cooperation.

◆At present, U.S. not only unabashedly proclaims its self-serving intention to provide foreign aid, but also pushes aid to the main battlefield of great power games. In the U.S. President’s budget requests of the past three years, the foreign aid budget has been rising year by year, focusing on the achievement of U.S. strategic and security objectives. Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said, the President’s budget request is a reflection of the critical importance of development and humanitarian assistance in advancing U.S. interests around the world, and the relevant investment will bring huge returns to our national security and our economy. The Joint Strategic Plan for FY2022-2026 issued by the U.S. State Department and USAID proposes five strategic goals, including renewing U.S. leadership, promoting global prosperity and shape an international environment in which the U.S. can thrive, strengthening democratic institutions, upholding universal values, and promoting human dignity, all of which reflect that the primary goal of aid is to safeguard U.S. interests. For the first time in history, the Administrator of USAID has been appointed as a permanent member of the White House National Security Council, underscoring the importance of aid in pursuing the U.S. national security strategy. Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis confessed, “Modern foreign aid is not charity. It is a strategic and an investment in a stronger America abroad.” The article in The Economist hit the point about the work done by USAID: “there was never any pretense of altruism.” Maura O’Neill, a former innovation chief at the agency, said USAID’s goal was to “catalyze more South Koreas and less North Koreas.”

◆The egoistic motive has led to the long-term perpetuation of U.S. aid by domestic politics and its global strategy, with a total disregard for the vital interests and actual needs of developing countries. Rama Yade, senior director of Africa Center, Atlantic Council, pointed out that U.S. has traditionally focused on security priorities in its African engagement. The Cold-War vision not only dominates perceptions in the public and private realms, but also distracts from the authentic economic and strategic opportunities the continent offers investors in the 21st century. The impact of the 9/11 attack has strengthened this approach over the past two decades. Most recently, the U.S. has seen Africa as a battleground for competition with China, ignoring that the continent’s nations have their own strategic interests.

◆The United States has never treated developing countries as equals, but, gives aid as a preacher and savior in a way that stands aloof and domineers over others, completely in accordance with its own standards and ignoring the cultural traditions and realistic conditions of other countries. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon admitted, “one of the most persistent faults in America’s dealings with the rest of the world has been our tendency to measure all governments by the standards of western democracy and all cultures by the standards of Western Europe.” Gilbert Rist, Swiss scholar and Honorary Professor of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (IHEID), took a sharp look at the depravity of U.S. foreign aid in his book The History of Development: From Western Origins to the Global Faith. As he put it,the Point Four Program legitimized U.S. hegemony, which in essence is anticolonial neo-imperialism wherein Westernization is regarded as the sole path for the underdeveloped countries to achieve development. This form of aid, founded on a singular standard and characterized by an arrogant self-assuredness, coerces developing nations into fitting a one-size-fits-all mold, pushing them onto someone else’s development path, ultimately eroding their sense of identity and economic independence.

◆The United States often attaches harsh conditions that undermine the sovereignty and dignity of the recipient countries, and wantonly points fingers at the recipient countries’ internal affairs. Founded in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is one of the specialized aid agencies in the U.S., known for setting demanding political and economic criteria in selecting aid recipients and providing large-scale, long-cycle “aid package” that compels partner country to carry out the reforms that the U.S. expects. As of 2019, MCC had approved 37 agreements involving 29 countries with a total value of more than $14 billion, according to its disclosures. The articles of such agreements put U.S. law above the law of the recipient country, requiring its partner to meet the standards set by the United States for political reform, market economy, democratization and human rights. This seriously infringes upon the sovereignty of the recipient country and has faced continuous opposition and resistance from developing nations.

◆Coveted Sri Lanka’s critical strategic location close to the Indian Ocean’s main waterway, the United States attempted to compel the Sri Lanka government into signing a MCC deal, the terms of which totally inconsistent with the laws of Sri Lanka and the local social, political and economic conditions. This was resolutely resisted by the Sri Lanka government. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka President by then, said in November 2020 his government would never sign the agreement with the United States “even in dream.” On February 27, 2022, under duress by the U.S., Nepal’s parliament approved the implementation of the Millennium Challenge Plan agreement signed between Nepal and the U.S. in 2017. The signing triggered domestic confrontations within Nepal, leading to social unrest. The United States not only set a deadline for the signing, but also made it clear that if the agreement was not signed before such deadline, it would terminate its cooperation and reevaluate its relations with Nepal. This agreement also includes clause that infringe upon the sovereignty of Nepal, explicitly stipulating that the agreement, once implemented, will take precedence over local laws, and that the U.S. personnel will not be subject to Nepal legal jurisdiction, etc. 

◆The United States is good at using aid as a bargaining chip and using “carrot and stick” to force developing countries to do what they say, which results in a serious lack of coherence in its aid policy and undermines the sustainable development of recipient countries. During the Trump administration, the U.S. has repeatedly suspended or reassessed aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Solomon Islands, among others, as a political threat. In August 2018, the United States, as the primary donor, stopped contributing to its long-funded UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and described the organization’s work as “irredeemably flawed”. This sudden halt was condemned by the United Nations and other parties. As a result, the agency once fell into a serious financial crisis, unable to work around the Palestinian refugee issue, had to scale back services and lay off workers. This move was reported to have aim at pressuring Palestine into accepting the U.S.’s so-called “deal of the century”.

◆The United States, in the name of aid for a long time, has infiltrated recipient countries in various ways, imposed American values and the “democratic model” on others, and force other countries to carry out “democratic transformation”, which has greatly harmed developing countries. Yet under such interference, the recipient countries have not only failed to alleviate poverty, but also suffered from numerous internal conflicts, with the deterioration of the situation leading to long-term dependence on aid or even economic collapse, wars and conflicts, and loss of life. Thomas Dichter, former Peace Corp member and country director who has worked in more than 60 developing countries for 50 years pointed out in his article published at Foreign Service Journal, it is commonly criticized that if the key variables for development, including cultural, social and political realms, are not present, aid will not only be ineffective but also create dependency.

◆The United States ignored the recipient countries’ condition and development needs but instead forces marketization and privatization in the name of aid. In the 1970s to the 1980s, U.S. aid to developing countries was based on the premise that recipient countries would undergo marketization and privatization structural adjustments to achieve economic goals. The USAID has publicly formulated a policy in this regard, requiring recipient countries to use aid mainly for the development of private enterprises and not for public investment. Such unilateral aid by the United States was difficult to acclimatize with the local circumstances and affected the ecology and endogenous driving force of sustainable economic development of recipient countries and increased their debt burden. Against this pressure, developing countries called for equal development rights. 

◆After the end of the Cold War, the United States launched large-scale aid program to countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America, and promoted the Washington Consensus centered on neoliberalism, democratization and shock therapy. Large numbers of U.S. consultants and contractors went to these countries to “guide” market-oriented reforms. However, the US-backed shock therapy has brought disastrous consequences for Russia and other countries, with tens of millions of people falling into poverty, a widening gap between rich and poor, and economy collapsing.

◆During the 20 years of invasion in Afghanistan, successive US administrations spared no effort to implant “democracy and a free market economy” in Afghanistan. Statistics shows the United States spent more than $2 trillion in the 20-year war while its official development assistance to Afghanistan amounted to $32.4 billion. The United States is “transforming” Afghanistan with aid while smashing it with artillery. In 2021 the U.S. army hastily withdrew from Afghanistan, declaring the complete failure of its “democratic transformation plan”, leaving the country devastated. More than 174,000 Afghanistan people, including more than 30,000 civilians, have been killed in the war, millions of civilians are struggling to survive, 3 million children are out of school due to poverty and 18.9 million people face severe food shortages. The United States not only ignored the horrors of the war, but also openly stole about $9.5 billion in Afghan national assets, further exacerbating the humanitarian disaster for the country. 

◆The U.S. has repeatedly boasted its “contribution” as the world’s largest aid donor, but it has never fully met its international responsibilities. In 1970, developed countries agreed to give 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) for official development assistance (ODA). However, according to OECD, the U.S. has never fulfilled this commitment on records. Since the 1990s, the U.S. has provided only 0.1 to 0.2 percent of its ODA/GNI, which is far below the 0.7 percent commitment. In 2011, the United Nations adopted the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, in which developed countries committed to allocate 0.15% to 0.2% of their GNI for assistance to the least developed countries. The United States has never fulfilled this obligation, with its assistance to the least developed countries consistently remaining below 0.1% of its GNI.

◆Aid for climate change is a typical case of the U.S. only paying lip service. At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference held as early as 2009, developed countries, including the United States, pledged to provide at least $100 billion in climate aid annually to developing countries until 2020. However, this commitment has yet to be fulfilled, and even the deadline for funding has been postponed to 2023. Among major developed country emitters, the U.S. is the first to break its promise and behaves the worst. Carbon Brief, a UK energy research organization, shows that the U.S. should provide $39.9 billion in climate aid each year according to the share of historical carbon emissions, but in 2020 it only provided $7.6 billion, accounting for only 19% of its responsible share estimated, and contributing the least among the 23 developed countries concerned. In 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged $11.4 billion annually  in climate aid to developing countries, but in reality, the U.S. has secured just $1 billion in 2021 and 2022 towards that goal. The United States has taken the lead in dodging the compensation issue that developing countries have repeatedly raised. The Washington Post commented that the U.S. has long resisted financial commitments at UN climate talks, fearing legal liability for the trillions of dollars of damage. Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, criticized that “the U.S. has no sympathy, has no empathy. People are dying, and they don’t want a system here to help them.”

◆In recent years, the U.S. has launched a wide range of initiatives containing aid content, such as the Blue Dot Network, Build Back Better World, Prosper Africa, Power Africa, etc. The essence of these bombast initiatives is indeed “repetitive packaging”, “watering down”, and “making up numbers” to fool the world, with very few projects on the ground, and ultimately ending up in a situation of loud thunder but little rain.

◆In June 2021, the U.S. led in launching The Build Back Better World (B3W) infrastructure initiative, which was packaged as The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) at the G7 Summit in 2022. An article from Foreign Affairs shows that, since its launch, B3W has stagnated, with the total amount of announced projects amounting to a paltry $6 million, a far cry from the billions of dollars promised by the U.S. government. The U.S. proposed the initiative with more political than economic intentions, not out of concern for the infrastructure development needs of developing countries, but as a political show. 

◆U.S. aid to Africa has just been the “pie in the sky” talk. In June 2013, then President Barack Obama visited South Africa and announced Power Africa initiative, claiming that this initiative will light up parts of the continent that are still in darkness. Yet as of December 2020, the actual power generation capacity of Power Africa is less than a quarter of what it has promised. At the first US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014, the Obama administration made promises such as providing funds for AIDS prevention and treatment, but after Donald Trump took office, the U.S. government drastically cut the aid. Emmanuel Matambo,scholar from University of Johannesburg in South Africa, pointed out that the summit failed to show African countries tangible results. As the 2nd U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit took place in December 2022, the U.S. has committed $55 billion to support the AU Agenda 2063, but only $15 billion of that amount is newly signed projects, while the remaining $40 billion is a repackaging of various U.S. initiatives and agreements with Africa in recent years. According to Amaka Anku, Head of Africa’s Practice at Eurasia Group, Biden’s rhetoric has been all great and pretty, but it’s hollow. “They’re not really doing things differently.” 

◆U.S. aid performance and quality have always been poor, with inefficiency, waste, redundancy, and profit repatriation that was recognized as “American characteristics”. USAID is widely rated by developing countries as the organization they are least willing to cooperate with. In order to get U.S. aid, recipients have to go through lengthy and complicated procedures, read over 2,000 pages of procurement terms and conditions, and go through endless approvals and reviews. However, most of the funds obtained from the aid flow back to the U.S. itself. USAID has openly admitted that about 80% of its expenditures were spent in the U.S.. Behind the world’s largest donor, there are filled with high management fees, hidden corruption and profit-making, the lavish spending of American contractors. U.S. consultants live in the most luxurious hotels in poor countries and enjoy sumptuous Western cuisine. As early as the 1990s, issues of corruption and the survival of USAID had sparked heated controversy in U.S. political and academic circles, and between 1995 and 2000, the agency’s workforce was cut by 30 percent.

◆The Center for Global Development (CGD), a U.S. think-tank, publishes the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) report every year to assess the assistance of the world’s richest countries to poorer countries, and the U.S. has been ranked at the bottom of the list in all previous years’ reports. Reports show that U.S. not only falls far short of the 0.7 percent aid target, but also performs poorly in four areas: effectiveness of bilateral aid, transparency, reducing the burden on recipient governments, and setting up institutions in recipient countries. Ian Mitchell, a senior policy fellow and co-director of the Europe programme at the CGD said this was the result of a long history of U.S. policy positions. In 2021, the U.S. ranked the worst in terms of aid spending, providing only 0.13 percent of its GNI for international development financing, compared to an average of 0.29 percent for the assessed countries. The United States ranked third from the bottom globally in terms of aid quality and performs particularly poorly in terms of recipient country ownership and aid localization.

◆During the period of COVID-19, the United States has been self-proclaimed as the world’s largest donor of vaccine, but in reality it has been a huge obstacle to the global fight against the pandemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a US health research organization, the U.S. pledged to donate at least 1.1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to the world by 2023, but it was not until January 2023 that the U.S. fulfilled 665 million doses. The United States’ massive stockpiling of medical supplies and vaccines has led to a continuing strain on the global supply of vaccines, resulting in a serious imbalance in their distribution around the globe. According to Harvard Political Review, the U.S. is one of the world’s leading practitioners of vaccine nationalism. The U.S. has used expiring vaccines to fulfill aid promises, causing African countries to reject further U.S. aid, deploring the egregious behavior of the U.S.. In 2022, 191,000 expiring AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines were rejected by South Africa and redistributed to South Sudan, where they arrived only two weeks before their expiration date, resulting in the destruction of about 59,000 vaccines. In addition, the Trump administration’s announcement of its withdrawal from WHO in July 2020 severely undermined global synergies against the epidemic at a critical time when the global fight against the COVID-19. 

◆U.S. foreign aid is essentially one of the tools to maintain its hegemonic position. In the name of foreign aid, the United States greedily “sucks blood” from developing countries and feeds back U.S. financial hegemony, food hegemony, military hegemony and cultural hegemony. The hegemony of the United States cannot be separated from its plundering of developing countries.

◆The U.S. has skillfully used aid instruments to tie developing countries firmly to its dominant financial system, transferring risks and responsibilities and exacerbating the Matthew effect (winner-takes-all). In November 2022, the Development Assistance Committee of OECD issued a peer review of U.S. official development assistance, which pointed out that the relevant policies and regulations of the United States have had negative spillover effects on developing countries, which the United States has failed to mitigate with appropriate tools and measures. According to the Global Financial Stability Report released by the IMF in April 2023, U.S. financial policies have become the biggest challenge to global financial stability. The aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve since last year have substantially pushed up global financing costs and aggravated the disorderly flow of international capital, which has not only led to the bankruptcy or takeover of some banks in the United States and Europe, but also aggravated the difficulties of emerging markets and developing countries. Heavily indebted countries have even fallen into a vicious cycle of debt servicing. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has criticized the current global financial system not only fails to promote the development of the least developed countries, but also exacerbates the global wealth inequality through predatory borrowing costs, which has led to the deep indebtedness of the least developed countries. It is worth pointing out that the United States not only keeps its mouth shut about the fact that it is western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions that are the largest creditors of developing countries, but also increases the debt burden of developing countries through continued money printing and interest rate hikes. In an article entitle “U.S. deliberately manipulates the truth about African debt”, the Herald of Zimbabwe pointed out that “the so called African ‘debt trap’ has long been touted by both Democrats and Republicans, and more importantly, it has been further advanced by value-laden U.S. corporations and agencies, including media outlets.” 

◆The United States touts itself as the world’s largest food aid donor, but in fact it is the “initiator” of the global food crisis. Three of the four major grain monopolies in the global grain market today are U.S. enterprises, which not only manipulate international grain prices, repeatedly speculate on food security issues and seek huge profits, but also create food dependency of developing countries under the manipulation of the U.S. government and monopoly capital. Mexico, Argentina and other large traditional agricultural countries have gradually lost their ability for food self-sufficiency, and the lifeblood of national food security has been manipulated in the hands of the United States. The United States has also imposed a food embargo on “disobedient” countries. Since the 1950s, the United States has launched eight food embargoes, which have greatly undermined global food security.

◆U.S. foreign aid has long been linked with the interests of arms dealers, and has become a cover for United States military hegemony. The United States not only make war profits through humanitarian crises, but also add fuel to the fire through aid projects. Alex Lo, a columnist for the South China Morning Post, pointed out that in the 20th century, the United States used a large amount of money to foster pro-American regimes in many developing countries. Today, from Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria to Pakistan, Yemen, the intervention of U.S. foreign aid has everything to do with the humanitarian crisis facing these countries.

U.S. foreign aid has prolonged the crisis in the Ukraine. As of January 2023, the U.S. commitment to Ukraine amounted to $76.8 billion, of which military aid accounted for the largest share, $46.5 billion, or 61%. U.S. media revealed that 40% of U.S. military aid to Ukraine is used for the mandatory purchase of U.S. equipment and training services, known as “tied aid”. Part of the military aid is a financial loan that will become a long-term liability for Ukraine. Marjorie Taylor Greene, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, stated bluntly, the United States aid to Ukraine is tantamount to disguised “money laundering”. In addition, the U.S. media and Russian officials have disclosed that weapons aided by the U.S. flows into the black market, posing a threat to international and regional security.

◆The United States, under the banner of aid, has long acted recklessly, instigating color revolutions, provoking regional conflicts and subverting national regimes, and has been the creator and instigator of chaos and war in the world, bringing serious harm to the international community and great disaster to the people of the world.

The United States has attempted to transform other countries and shape the world order in accordance with its values and political system, promoting the so-called “democracy” in many countries under the cover of human rights groups, professional associations, labor organizations and independent think tanks, fostering opposition politicians and pro-American forces, and subverting and infiltrating legitimate regimes. Behind the Arab Spring, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the United States has financed, instigated and even directly intervened.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is an U.S. NGO that openly engages in the export of democracy activities, with 97% of its funding coming from the U.S. government, and its mission is to foster pro-U.S. opposition, labor unions and the media around the globe. Allen Weinstein, the NED co-founder, in a 1991 interview with The Washington Post, stated “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” In times of peace, the so-called NGOs funded by the United States carry out “peaceful evolution” bit by bit through ideological infiltration and personnel training, and then directly jump out to participate in and instigate protests in times of crisis, acting as the “vanguard” of color revolutions. 

While the United States is fighting terrorism globally, it is also fostering terrorists to achieve its own geostrategic intentions. In October 2016, WikiLeaks released documents showing that the United States has provided various assistance to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in order to overthrow the Gaddafi regime in Libya and the government of Syria, and has instigated the terrorist groups to carry out military operations to topple the Syrian government. Graham Fuller, a Middle East expert and former CIA analyst, said that “the United States is one of the key creators of the Islamic State.”

◆The United States uses aid as a tool of geopolitical games to maliciously suppress the influence of other countries and enhance U.S. leadership. In fiscal year 2021, the U.S. government’s budget bill invested US $300 million and US $290 million to set up the Countering Chinese Influence Fund and the Countering Russian Influence Fund respectively. Congressional Budget Justification: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2023, clearly states that foreign aid is a key tool for strategic competition. The State Council and USAID will use the Countering Chinese Influence Fund and Countering Russian Influence Fund to support the programs.

Development is the eternal pursuit of human society. Foreign aid should have been an important resource for addressing global development challenges, should have been used to help the people of developing countries to solve their survival and development challenges, should have promoted the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and should have contributed to world peace, prosperity and stability. However, U.S. regards foreign aid as a tool to maintain its hegemonic position and to engage in geopolitical games. In the name of aid, U.S. has acted recklessly, committed numerous misdeeds and committed numerous crimes. The hypocritical nature of U.S. has been clearly revealed, which has brought about a deep disaster to the world.

Although the U.S. itself has a lot of problems with foreign aid, U.S. keep putting a label on China’s foreign aid and pouring dirty water on it. It should be emphasized that non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, non-imposition on others and non-attachment of any political conditions are the “iron principles” of China’s aid. The gold standard for self-evaluation of China’s aid is whether the people of the partner country support, whether the economic and social development of the partner country has developed, and whether the international community is satisfied. Putting righteousness first, advocating amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness are the unchanging values of China’s foreign aid. “Giving roses to others will leave a lingering fragrance while trying to gain through cunning and violence will only leave a lasting stench”. Draped in the cloak of aid, engaging in hegemony, arrogance, and bullying, will ultimately backfire and harm the U.S. itself, and will inevitably be met with the condemnation of people around the world. To engage in hegemony and bullying under the guise of “aid” will ultimately be detrimental to others, and will inevitably backfire on itself, and will be spurned by the people of the world. 

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