10 Reasons Conservatives Must Support Aid Reform

mark_green_profileIn a recent series of blog posts for MFAN’s ModernizeAid blog, former Congressman Mark Green (R-WI) of the Malaria No More Policy Center lays out the Conservative case for foreign assistance reform.  Rep. Green, who also served as Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush, gives 10 reasons Conservatives should support more effective U.S. foreign assistance.  Click on the link to read the full piece on each reason:

  • Reason 1: Our current foreign aid system is organizationally incoherent.
  • Reason 2: We need to reform the system to make our precious taxpayer dollars go much further.
  • Reason 3: Foreign assistance reform is a great opportunity for Conservatives to reaffirm values and initiatives we care about.
  • Reason 4: Simply put, Conservatives (and Republicans) have a long history of standing up for EFFECTIVE foreign assistance.
  • Reason 5: The combination of fragmented authorities and overlapping bureaucracies in our current assistance framework is watering down public diplomacy efforts.
  • Reason 6: Making our foreign assistance operate as effectively as possible is a moral and ethical imperative.
  • Reason 7: The lack of coordination between our foreign assistance programs and our trade policies is hurting the effectiveness of both.
  • Reason 8: Conservatives need to ensure that our foreign assistance system recognizes, protects and builds on the enormous contributions to development being made by other-than-government sources – especially faith-based institutions.
  • Reason 9: Making our foreign assistance system more effective can help bring home our men and women in uniform – and make future deployments less necessary/minimize the need for future deployments.
  • Reason 10: Since fighting the threat of terrorism is one of this generation’s greatest challenges, we need to sharpen those tools that can help prevent violent extremism from spreading and growing.

Below are some of the most interesting and compelling points from Amb. Green’s series:

American Foreign Assistance is Pro-business

Conservatives believe, in the words of Ronald Reagan, that, “The best possible social program is a job.”  Foreign assistance, done right, can help foster conditions that strengthen consumerism, transparency, democratization and markets. It helps entrepreneurs start businesses and governments to lower trade barriers, foster innovation, and create better environments for investment. Today’s developing countries are tomorrow’s trade partners.

Foreign Assistance Protects the Homeland

Healthy societies are often the best defense against extremism. In this way, foreign assistance efforts play a crucial role within our national security strategy. We cannot fight terrorism by military means alone. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen have both called for greater support for development, diplomacy, health, and education. Foreign assistance can help prevent future Afghanistans and Somalias and keep our men and women in uniform out of harm’s way.

Aid is a Moral Obligation

Religious leaders such as Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and Pope John Paul II have long voiced their support for helping the world’s poorest. Our country’s aid infrastructure was created to ensure that America remains a good neighbor in an inter-dependent and largely poor world.

President George W. Bush was one of our era’s most eloquent proponents for foreign assistance. As he said in the aftermath of 9/11: “We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror. We fight against poverty because opportunity is a fundamental right to human dignity. We fight against poverty because faith requires it and conscience demands it. And we fight against poverty with a growing conviction that major progress is within our reach.” President Bush saw our prosperity as a call to action, and our power to save lives as an obligation to help lift up broken lives and empower struggling communities.  We provide economic assistance to those less fortunate because we know it is the right thing to do.

Conservatives Can Help Make Aid More Accountable and Efficient

Although there are compelling trade, national security, and moral arguments for deepening America’s commitment to foreign assistance, our aid infrastructure is in desperate need of reform.

Luckily, the Bush administration already got the ball rolling. New initiatives like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation are providing sustainable solutions to our most entrenched development challenges.

Moving forwards, conservatives should build on the success of these programs and work to make our entire aid system more transparent and accountable. Where redundancies exist, they should be eliminated.  Where efficiencies can be found, they should be implemented.  And where programs no longer meet our objectives, they should be ended. Sounds like a good job for Conservatives — taking sound principles of business administration and applying them to a bureaucracy in need of reform.


Across the world, perceptions of America are often clouded by misinformation. When young people across Africa learn that the U.S. is leading the fight against AIDS and Malaria even while we hurt economically at home, they are much more likely to trust the United States and seek closer bilateral security, trade and political relations. When entrepreneurs are given a helping hand in Turkey, or farmers are able to take advantage of a new technology, or women take out a microloan in Indonesia, we are sowing seeds for future economic and diplomatic partnerships.

Foreign assistance is not simply do-gooderism, although it certainly does considerable good. Foreign assistance projects open hearts and minds to America’s message of liberty, fairness, and free markets.  Now is the time for Conservatives to raise their voices in support of a pro-development, pro-reform foreign assistance policy.

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