America’s Role in the World: Appropriations
America has had a long history of lending a hand to the needy; not just in this country, but, across the world. We are known across international borders for our willingness to come to the rescue of any nation in peril. Whether it is food, development, arms, military assistance, water, or education, the American Government has money to give. In the lowest points of economic history, America still hands out appropriations to other countries for an array of economical and security reasons. The USAID (US Agency for International Development) was formed to offer deprived, third world countries entitlements and funding; as well as, to help other countries in times of natural and unnatural disasters (USAID, 2011).
However, not all Americans agree with giving handouts to other countries; especially when America is in economic peril. “By 1960, the support from the American public and Congress for the existing foreign assistance programs had dwindled” (USAID, 2011). In 1961, President Kennedy suggested;
“Although our aid programs have helped to avoid economic chaos and collapse, and assisted many nations to maintain their independence and freedom nevertheless, it is a fact that many of the nations we are helping are not much nearer sustained economic growth than they were when our aid operation began. Money spent to meet crisis situations or short-term political goals while helping to maintain national integrity and independence has rarely moved the recipient nation toward greater economic stability” (USAID, 2011).
For many years the American people (and a few politicians), have disapproved of the Government’s handling of international entitlements; some even believe that America should not give any aid to other countries. After all, it is widely believed that irresponsible dispersion of entitlements to Americans is what has put this country in financial distress, and caused widespread laziness. Additionally, people tend to appreciate things more when having to work hard to obtain them. On the other hand, some people are justifiably unable to work for one reason or another. In order to stop all appropriations, these unfortunates would be left to the hands of ‘natural selection’.
That being said, there is more to the USAID than just appropriations of food, water, and education development to other countries. Included in President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget request for$58.9 billion for the USAID was money for the “Israeli Arab Scholarship Program”, “Foreign Military Financing”, “International Military Education and Training”, and “U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund”. What was not included in this request was the $1,438,800 for operating costs needed to hand out these entitlements (2010 Budget Request, 2011). The American people’s blood boils when they see these staggering figures; especially when they are making sacrifices, forgoing education, and in the extreme cases, going without food or medicine.
For the most part, Americans are good-hearted and giving; but, when their plight is great, the focus turns to providing for their own, expecting the government to do the same. In addition, if the public would actually research what is included in the budget, and what progress is being made across the board, the opinions might change. Granted, there are changes that must be made to the extent of America’s involvement in world affairs, but, we must have a CSR (Country Social Responsibility) program to keep our status, integrity, and power around the world. Additionally, being a super power has certain expectations and responsibilities; if these are not met, the consequences could be devastating.
In times of natural disasters, no matter the country, America must help as much as we can without going down with the ship; meaning, as long as it does not completely ruin the American economy to aid, then it is our duty. In what matter it is done, is what is in question. Never has there been a need, which America did not respond in one form or another. As a matter of fact, America is always the first to respond to international issues of any kind, it has come to be expected; although, it would be a wonderful thing if the same response that is given to other countries, were given to the United States of America and her people.
The first military action of the United States was the Revolutionary War; that War cost American tax payers $101 million (Daggett, 2008). No American would ever suggest that war was not necessary to the independence of the people; therefore, the cost is validated. Additionally, the Civil War cost Americans a Union/Confederate total of $4,183 million (Daggett, 2008). Where were Libya and the other countries we help in their time of civil discernment? Did anyone lend a hand or financial aid to America to help redevelop? No. Does this mean we cut off, or refuse aid to others on this premise? No. America’s security depends on a certain amount of participation in ugly international political and social issues; to what extent is the debate.
After 9/11, Americans were war bound; they wanted justice for the 3,000 + lives that were lost in the atrocity against the United States. Unlike the Vietnam War, Americans were signing up for the fight against terrorism in staggering numbers. In a change of events, after finding that President Bush lied, mislead, and manipulated the information given about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the protests against the war began. Now, several years later, the public opinion is less supportive than before about involving the American military in any International conflict. The American people no longer trust the government to make mindful decisions about their security; some even believe we should keep our nose in our own business instead of pushing our views on other countries.
Additionally, Americans wonder if we are training and arming future enemies; in Libya we fight on the side of the ‘unknown’. In truth, we have no idea if these friends of combat will eventually become enemies of war. History has shown that those we help arm and train, may very well kill us with weapons we provide. In addition to these concerns, the cost of war, human and monetary, concern the public; the values and purposes for the losses are blurred.
The cost of war is not confined to the battlefield. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” cost Americans an amazing “$363.8 million-$173.3 million, or 91 percent more than originally reported…” (Korb, 2009). Other military costs include, pay, benefits, tanks, firearms, ammunition, travel, Vet costs, recruitment, training (American and International), immigration, and an array of other necessary costs. Most of these costs and actions are required, and necessary; but, some are uncalled for and self-serving. Most Americans (including me) wonder if 9 times out of ten, we are fighting for natural resources like oil and gas, instead of democracy and the plight of the deprived people.
In times of disasters, the American Military should, if possible, send military aid if needed. Regardless of whether or not when Hurricane Katrina hit, no other country rushed to our aid with military assistance, we must uphold to a higher standard. That is why America is the greatest nation on earth; we have a great CSR (Country Social Responsibility) program. Although, like any smart entity, we must not over extend our assets. America must be very careful not to intrude where we are not wanted or needed, but, at the same time, we must not let the evils of the world dictate a people who wants freedom. In addition, we cannot let certain groups or entities spread hate and extremism.
In conclusion, America must continue to carefully, responsibly help developing countries with appropriations and aid; but, we must not do so at our own peril. America must take care of its own people, then, the American people will be happy to extend charity where it is needed. In times of natural disasters, America must extend military and entitlements, not only to help our international neighbors, but, to hold are integrity, respect, and status in the world. Finally, the idea of charity is, “if you have two coats, give one of them to someone in need, you will be none the colder; if you only have one coat, offer to share”. Yet, we must remember that one cannot help another if they cannot help themselves.
2010 Budget Request. (2011, April 17). Foreign appropriations. Department of State.
United States of America. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/122513.pdf
Daggett, Stephen. (2008, July 24). The cost of war. Navy Department Library.
Korb, Lawrence J. (2009, March 2). The cost of Don’t ask, Don’t tell. Center for American
USAID. (2011, April 17). USAID History. USAID: From the American People.