Tuesday, June 10, 2008

U.S. Must Overhaul its Foreign Assistance Plan

A coalition of experts from think tanks, religious organizations, and anti-poverty campaigns has developed a campaign to overhaul the way the U.S. provides foreign aid. The reform initiative will be revealed by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Currently, there are a billion people in the world who live on less than a dollar a day. The U.S.’s current system of foreign assistance is politicized, divided, and ineffective. It is split among 24 agencies and 50 programs, including the Defense Department, which in recent years has taken on an estimated 20 percent of U.S. foreign aid duties. U.S. aid has too often been given for short-term political benefits rather than for fostering long-term development. The reform advocates argue that extreme poverty and hunger could cause political instability in over 30 countries, thus directly relating back to US foreign policy. The reform initiative is aimed at presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain because the U.S.’s image on the world stage is greatly damaged, and repairing that is something in which the future president will be greatly interested. Reforming and streamlining the way in which the U.S. provides foreign assistance is a good way to start that process of reparations and a necessary way in which the U.S. must help those suffering from the current food crisis worldwide. According to Michael Signer, who served as foreign policy adviser to former North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards’ unsuccessful presidential campaign, of which poverty was one of the central agenda items, “America’s need to restore our moral authority is the signature national security issue for the future.”