Charles Zinn: Increase foreign aid to keep America safe

Published: 8/23/2019 7:00:23 PM
Modified: 8/23/2019 7:00:09 PM

The best way to ensure America’s security? Not walls or drones, but foreign aid.

The United States has the most powerful military in human history. We spend $663 billion every year on this juggernaut — about 18 percent of the federal budget — in order to ensure both national security and global stability.

However, according to numerous military strategists, simply having an enormous military is not enough. A critical, yet often overlooked aspect of our national security policy is international development. Poverty spawns instability and violence, as impoverished people become desperate and vulnerable, allowing authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations to easily gain power.

Lifting people out of poverty improves stability and lowers the risk of bad actors ascending to power, thus lowering the risk of violence, war and displacement.

Yet, the United States only spends about $30 billion per year, less than 1 percent of the federal budget, on nonmilitary foreign aid. This is clearly not enough, especially in comparison with our military spending. Politicians of all political leanings, as well as many military leaders, express frustration with our lack of aid spending.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, General Colin Powell, and more than 50 retired three- and four-star generals have all advocated for increased spending on International Affairs budget and development programs.

Legislation like the Global Fragility Act, cosponsored by our own Sen. Ed Markey, which seeks to increase our nonmilitary aid spending and help address insecure areas around the world, has widespread bipartisan support throughout Washington.

Despite all of this, the Trump administration continues to cut the International Affairs budget. These cuts in spending will create an increase in both wars and instability, thus making us less secure. If the current administration continues these counterproductive budget cuts, America’s safety will be at further risk.

Charles Zinn


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