This post is a guest post from one of our 2018-19 sourcebook authors Jadon Buzzard. Take a look at the resources, and use his knowledge to help prep for the upcoming year!
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh man, the 2018-2019 Stoa team policy resolution dropped like a month ago and I don’t even know where to begin!” Well, that’s what I’m here for.
Let’s start with the absolute broadest definition we could ever get on this topic. The all-knowing, all-seeing Wikipedia defines foreign aid as, simply: “a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another.” “WHAT?” You exclaim, “Literally any foreign policy fits that definition.” Well, kind of.
Governmental development assistance is the most common conceptualization of foreign aid. This category includes anything that the government of one country gives the government of another for humanitarian or security reasons. Chances are that the vast majority of cases this year will fall under this topic). The US gives some kind of foreign aid to at least 95% of the countries in the world, but just 1% of the budget goes to aid programs. The types of aid vary widely, something we’ll cover later. It’s also important to note that foreign aid can be sent by individuals and foundations; in fact, private charity is probably the best-known giver of foreign aid. Just something to keep in mind as we continue.
Two other topics could be run as foreign aid: foreign-direct investment and international trade. FDI happens when non-residents of a country hold equity assets of a company in another country. Foreign trade is, well, foreign trade: one individual trading products with a foreign counterpart. While action regulating either of these topics falls under a broad reading of the resolution, chances are that you’ll get nailed with some strong T shells, so we won’t be focusing on it here.
TYPES OF DEVELOPMENT AID
Now that we have an idea of what the resolution means, let’s dive into the different types of foreign aid. There are several categories here.
This is probably what you picture when you think of foreign aid. Monetary aid can come in a couple forms, but at its core, it’s just that: monetary. One government (or multiple) gives another nation money. This can come in the form of a blanket grant of funds for the recipient nation to spend on its people, or in the form of direct cash transfers. The former is easy enough to understand, but many people have problems with it. There’s a substantial amount of research indicating that money given to foreign governments is often squandered, stolen, or worse—used to fund terrorism. Because of corruption, much of this aid is tied, meaning that the grants required to be used for specific purposes (like healthcare or infrastructure). Direct cash transfer (or DCT), on the other hand, is a newer form of aid. It involves the direct transfer of money from the government of a nation to individual recipients. This seems to fix some of the problems associated with aid given to governments or NGOs since it eliminates the possibility of corruption. Research has been done on this topic; many believe that DCT is the monetary aid of the future, while some have a few hesitations (mainly regarding whether transfers make people lazy or not).
The next major type of aid involves the transfer of food from one country to another. Instead of just giving straight money, food aid sends agricultural products for the people of another nation. This is very popular in places where food is sparse, or a natural disaster has wiped out local farms. The US is the biggest international food aid donor, giving more than 40% of food aid in the past few years. All international food aid must originate in the United States and be shipped on US-flagged vessels to their destination points. This process generally involves USAID buying excess produce from domestic farmers. Many researchers have published data revealing inefficiencies in the US food aid system. They argue that policies like the cargo preference mandate and the domestic sourcing requirement reduce the amount of food that goes to those in need and delays shipments. The 2014 Farm Bill reduced some of these regulations, but several remain on the books.
This broad category includes any kind of development assistance that is not monetary or food aid. For example, donated technology, healthcare, and development/training teams could all be considered “development tools.” Sometimes governments will send actual products overseas, especially to places that would not be able to acquire those products without foreign assistance. The vast majority of US aid is made up of money and food, but that’s where the potential for cases exists. Look into sending development teams overseas to fix broken equipment, or shipping medical devices to certain places in Africa. Perhaps a case could be written that would assist parts of the developing world in getting internet/electricity access—the possibilities are endless.
The last kind of aid we need to cover is military aid. This includes sending weapons, equipment, and/or military personnel to another country, generally to bolster security in the region. The US spent $5.9 billion on military aid in 2014, and 75% of that went to two countries: Israel and Egypt. The case possibilities here are extensive. Many commentators believe that giving so much aid to Israel is a national security risk, while others argue that more aid ought to be extended to increase presence in the area and support our democratic ally. Plans could involve sending military assistance to a country that we have not previously supported, or even ending all military aid shipments. I think this is where the foreign aid topic can get interesting, as both Affirmative and Negative teams will garner significant impacts from the implications.
That’s it! Consider yourself officially primed for the 2018-2019 school year. Happy debating!