News Release

U.S. Foreign Aid: Should It Buy Support?


WASHINGTON — With Congress now at work on proposals to fund U.S. foreign aid programs for fiscal year 1999, analysts are debating the merits of such assistance.

Today, the Heritage Foundation released a policy paper claiming that the largest portion of Washington’s foreign aid budget “goes to many countries that seldom support U.S. foreign policy initiatives.” The think tank cited voting records at the United Nations and declared that “most recipients of U.S. foreign aid vote against the United States more often than they vote with it.”

But researchers associated with the Institute for Public Accuracy quickly challenged the spin of the Heritage paper. Among those available for comment are:

Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Birns said: “The Heritage Foundation is asking the wrong questions of its data, and is doing so because of its knee-jerk conservative attitudes toward rational foreign policy.” He added: “What should worry Heritage is that the U.S. habitually occupies a dangerously isolated niche on foreign policy questions. This condition would be further exacerbated if Washington’s votes in the UN more closely corresponded to Heritage’s own wish list and the spirit behind the useless piece of research it is now distributing.”

Professor of Middle East history and director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University, Beinin said: “The whole framework [of the policy paper] is absurdly missing the point. Foreign aid is given to shore up American military and economic interests around the world, not so countries vote with the U.S. in the UN — which has at best limited importance.”

According to Paul, executive director of the UN watchdog group Global Policy Forum: “The U.S. tends to vote against most resolutions that have to do with nuclear disarmament and a lot of other good stuff. The U.S. votes to protect its ability to export arms, or protect its nuclear weapons program, or to dominate the world’s economy. Some of these countries that are voting against the U.S. in the UN might have some good reasons to do that.”

Policy director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy — Food First, Mittal commented: “The U.S. government has used, and wants to continue using, aid as a carrot to serve U.S. foreign policy interests and further its interests at the expense of the poor. Feeding the hungry and maintaining peace have always been secondary objectives.”

For more information, contact Theresa Caldwell or Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.