In recent news, the Trump administration agreed to arm Syria’s Kurdish fighters to regain control of Raqqa from the Islamic State despite protests from NATO ally Turkey. The Syrian Kurdish group YPG is associated with Kurdish terrorists currently operating in Turkey. The U.S. undermines the advice of its ally Turkey, because it sees the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces as the only opportunity to recapture Raqqa and gain another victory over IS. However, are there other opportunities to improve conditions in Syria and similar countries?
The Trump administration is so invested in defense that it neglects the other two vital sectors of U.S. foreign affairs — development and diplomacy. By investing in development and diplomacy, we can improve conditions in countries facing extreme poverty and government corruption.
On average, most Americans believe 28 percent of our federal budget goes to foreign aid. However, less than 1 percent goes toward supporting the world’s poor, whereas 18 percent goes toward defense and international security assistance. To put that in perspective, $30 billion goes to foreign assistance while $663 billion goes to military spending. But, why does this all matter?
By investing in the world’s poor and ending global poverty, we are also investing in our economy, national security and diplomacy. When poverty decreases, consumerism increases. If we work to end global poverty, we will create a new market for U.S. companies and American jobs that will boost economic growth exponentially.
By supporting diplomacy and development, we are also strengthening weak and failing states and institutions of democratic governance. If we strengthen these institutions, we can push out terrorism and destroy corruption in these states that will in turn protect our own borders. In addition to security, aiding countries in extreme poverty will create strong potential allies for the U.S. and improve foreign relations.
The U.S. should do more to end global poverty not only because it can, but also because it is in its own best interest. The Borgen Project, a national nonprofit grassroots organization, is working to promote innovations in poverty reduction at the federal level.
By working with Congress to promote foreign aid and educating the public on the importance of development and diplomacy, The Borgen Project is making significant efforts to end global poverty. Instead of calling for more guns and ammunition, let’s try promoting development and diplomacy for a change. Make U.S. Foreign Affairs proactive, not retroactive.
Grace A. Langley
Editor’s Note: The writer is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an intern at The Borgen Project.