Discourse / Editorials / April 6, 2016

Foreign aid also America’s problem

After we read about the devastating effect of Cyclone Winston, the U.S. was once again put in the position of deciding whether to get involved, and if so, to what extent. Echoes of neo-colonialism and soft influence will surely be something politicians take into consideration, but this does not dismiss the fact that smaller states, such as Fiji, are often overshadowed by larger news stories. At this moment in time,  the primary elections are gobbling up most of the media attention.

What are the foreign policy stances of the primary candidates? We’ve heard sound bits from various Republican candidates saying they’d be more aggressive with Daesh, but what of helping the refugees who are currently fleeing the violence? Sure, Hillary Clinton brings her background as Secretary of State to the table, but how will she shape her own agenda post-Iraq war?

Military force is undoubtedly an important aspect of foreign policy, but providing foreign aid to countries in need is an overlooked aspect of being a world leader. For example, the “global gag rule” — a law that prevents organizations receiving USAID funding from referring clients to abortion services — has been imposed and rescinded like clockwork depending on who is in office at the time. Let’s think about the long term effects of constantly changing foreign policy. Aside from the fact that it gives the US the appearance of having wishy-washy policies, it disadvantages organizations around the world that depend on US funding to support their organizations.

As Kiannah Sepeda-Miller ‘16 very eloquently stated in her editorial about the death of a journalist in Morocco, “Americans get by thinking so little of a world that cannot afford to ignore us.” With news titles flashing by highlighting domestic issues and presidential candidates orienting entire speeches around elitist economic models, it’s understandable that we step into a rose-colored bubble that softens complicated issues happening in other parts of the world.

With our eyes on the upcoming election, immigration and Daesh seem to be monopolizing the foreign policy debate. I can also see why these issues seem to be at the forefront of issues: This country was built on immigrants and they continue to impact every facet of policy and society. Daesh, on the other hand, triggers everyone’s fears; their violence and brutal beheadings draw everyone’s attention and the recent attack in France brings back horrific memories of Sept. 11, 2001. These are important. They matter. And we should most definitely vote on candidates who represent our own beliefs with regard to how such issues are handled.

The foreign policy topics I’m not hearing from debates are just as important. China’s position in the East Asian sea and clean water shortages around the world will be just as important when considering the US’s role in the coming years. The Zika virus, once shocking and a major concern for the US, is reduced to an occasional news update (leftover aid from Ebola will be rolled to fund Zika research). The US economy is very important, but how will it fit into the world market? With the economic and migrant crises in the European Union, we must reflect on our own policies and connection to the rest of the Western world.

Tawni Sasaki, Discourse Editor

Tags:  america foreign aid foreign policy Knox College neocolonialism politics Tawni Sasaki

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