President Obama Is Right to Emphasize Foreign Aid

— by Jason Berger

During his speech at the National Defense University, President Obama spoke candidly about his support for foreign aid. He stated:

I know that foreign aid is one of the least popular expenditures — even though it amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. But foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity. It is fundamental to our national security, and any sensible long-term strategy to battle extremism. Moreover, foreign assistance is a tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars that our assistance might ultimately prevent.

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In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized, it is great to see that President Obama understands foreign aid’s importance. As he indicated, foreign aid is a “tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars,” and yet surprisingly, it serves as our country’s first line of defense. Because of the aid our country provides, we are able to safely and securely promote American interests abroad without putting any troops on the ground.

Our assistance helps developing nations build stronger economies, and plays a part in securing a robust global market. Equally as important, our aid programs fight diseases, provide natural disaster relief, and promote stability to previously unstable governments.

All too often, American citizens — including our elected officials — seemingly forget these truths. There are countless of in-plain-sight instances where foreign aid has been mutually beneficial to the U.S. and a recipient. Take Israel for example. Because of increased U.S. security assistance to Israel under the Obama administration, our two countries have been able to fund some of the most advanced weapons defense systems in the world, including the Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome. This was on full display last fall, during operation Pillar of Defense, when the Iron Dome allowed the time to properly negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.

Foreign aid is a seriously important tool, and President Obama made that evident in his speech. Hopefully, the message was also clear to both policymakers and the American public. Foreign aid needs to continue to be a centerpiece of our national security.

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