Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Catch All Called Foreign Aid

As events continue to unfold in Egypt and across the Middle East, I've been thinking about the return we've gotten for our billions in foreign aid and whether or not it has been worth it.

Consider Egypt, the people are fortunate for the fact they have had an opportunity for education. No jobs, but education. Our aid, however, had nothing to do with it. It went to strengthening their military. The same is true in Israel. And Iraq. It's going to bride tribal leaders in Afghanistan or into the out of country bank accounts of government officials. Pakistan? Who knows. So much is lost to pure corruption.

Then there are the poorest of the poor countries. Many in Africa. One at our own front door. Haiti. It suffered such a severe blow from the earthquake last year, I wonder if it will ever recover. People are still living in tent cities. The country is racked with an epidemic of cholera. Millions, if not billions of dollars in "aid" have flowed into the country. But where is it? There is nothing to be shown for it and their politics are in turmoil. They also have a largely undereducated population unable to mount a protest for change like the Iranians, who failed, or the Egyptians who at least have not given up.

Now Haiti is finally facing the finality of their botched election via a run off. In Egypt, if you can get past all Fox News fear mongering about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over to realize there are actually some credible potential leaders, there is hope. In Haiti I'm not so sure.

The run off has boiled down to two candidates, a 70 year old former first lady and a carnival singer. There is the problem of the current President's status and how he will handle it. An all too familiar theme. Then there is former dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier, already in the country and  Jean-Bertrand Aristide waiting in the wings for his credentials. Neither could possibly be up to anything good.

Aid to Egypt is likely to continue for a multitude of reasons regardless of the outcome short of a radical Muslim takeover. Aid to Haiti is threatened unless the current government toes the line the Organization of American States has set.

I have no answers. Everything is so complex. I look at the people and wonder who has the greatest need and who might be better able to fend for themselves. Forget the military and bribes.

What I see is a very uneven playing field.  For the people of those countries. And for the people of our country.  It's our money.

1 comment:

Margie's Musings said...

Perhaps the only answer is to withdraw all foreign aid everywhere and cut off the corruption that permits. Then let the private foundations do that work with a lot more oversight.