NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Foreign Mayhem And U.S. Responsibility

November 12, 1996

Not a few analysts, experts and ordinary Americans are questioning U.S. involvement overseas when crises arise. Is the U.S. forever doomed to pour money, personnel and relief supplies into areas of conflict abroad, they ask?

  • They point out that if foreign aid could prevent chaos in poorer states, then Haiti, Burundi, Rawanda, Zaire, Somalia and Sudan should all be thriving.
  • Between 1971 and 1994, these nations received $3.1 billion, $4.1 billion, $4.5 billion, $7.8 billion, $8 billion and $13.4 billion, respectively, in foreign assistance.
  • Yet international financial transfers often have proved to be harmful -- subsidizing dictatorial regimes that impoverish and brutalize their own people.

The increasing number of foreign assistance skeptics point out that intervening in bitter ethnic, religious and tribal conflicts seldom brings lasting peace, since these hatreds often date back for centuries. And American fatalities are all but inevitable, once our troops are committed.

Finally, all too often Washington commits and endangers American forces to engage in conflicts in areas where the U.S. has no vital interests.

Source: Doug Bandow (Cato Insitute), "We Can't Cure All Global Ills," USA Today, November 12, 1996.


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