Sunday, February 12, 2012

PF Aid To Pakistan Topic Analysis - Part 1

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Background: Meaning, Purpose and Types of Aid

What is AID?
Before we can debate the PROs and CONs of suspending aid to Pakistan we need to understand, what is meant by aid. As a noun, aid is simply defined as help, support or relief; as a verb it is defined as to give help, support or relief and can also mean to assist financially. In the context of the resolution, suspend would mean, to stop or interrupt with the implication the interruption will be for a period of time, meaning, temporary.  So, if the U.S is to suspend aid, it would be suspending the process of rendering help, support of relief.  "Foreign aid" is defined as "the international transfer of capital, goods, or services from a country or international organization for the benefit of the recipient country or its population. Aid can be economic, military, or emergency humanitarian (e.g., aid given following natural disasters)." [Encyclopedia Britannica,]  This suggests there can be official government sponsored aid (for example military aid) and non-government aid (like assistance from the International Red Cross). Typically, however, when one thinks of foreign aid, they make the distinction that foreign aid is assistance provided by a government as opposed to a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Why This Resolution?
I think a lot of the rationale for suggesting aid to Pakistan should be suspended is based on the idea Pakistan has not been open and fully cooperative with us in our war efforts in Afghanistan.  In fact, some have made charges that Pakistan has actually hindered our efforts or provided direct material support to the forces opposed to U.S. efforts. It is believed therefore, that suspension of aid would be a punitive action intending to force their compliance to our wishes and needs in the region.  Withholding of aid is one of several kinds of economic sanctions that can be levied against another nation. The debater must consider, the fact that Pakistan obviously has something of value we desire.  With regard to our objectives in Afghanistan, they provide military facilities, intelligence, and training among other things. In the long term they potentially play a pivotal role as a stable, influential American ally in the region. This is most important considering the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a stable, secure and pro-American Pakistan is in the best interests of the United States.

Current Situation
The United States has suspended and resumed various kinds of aid over the last ten years.  In January of this year a nearly $1 billion cut in military aid as part of the $662 billion military spending bill recently passed. As reported by the Times of India (
"This freeze includes the majority of the USD 1.1 billion in Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund," the House Armed Services Committee had said in a statement early this week, after members of the House and the Senate reached an agreement on the bill.
The House vote came after the White House said that President Barack Obama will not veto the bill as it was satisfied with the changes made in it.
"As a result of these changes, we have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the President's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the President's senior advisors will not recommend a veto," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"However, if in the process of implementing this law we determine that it will negatively impact our counter-terrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems," Carney said.

The Purpose of Aid
According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service Report in 2009, "Since the start of modern U.S. foreign aid programs, the rationale for such assistance has been posited in terms of national security. From a beginning in rebuilding Europe after World War II under the Marshall Plan (1948-1951), U.S. aid programs reflected anti-communist Cold War tensions that continued through the 1980s. U.S. development assistance programs to newly independent states were viewed by policymakers as a way to prevent the incursion of Soviet influence in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Military and economic assistance programs were provided to allies offering U.S. base rights or other support in the anti-Soviet struggle." The report suggests that after the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, foreign aid objectives became less focused and dollar amounts dropped. The focus changed following the 9/11 Terrorist attacks:
"since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, policymakers frequently have cast foreign assistance as a tool in the global war on terrorism. This has comprised an emphasis on aid to partner states in the terrorism war, including the substantial reconstruction programs in Afghanistan and Iraq. As noted, global development is now accepted, along with defense and diplomacy, as a key element of U.S. national security." 
But there are other reasons: 
"Foreign assistance has long been defended as a way to either promote U.S. exports by creating new customers for U.S. products or by improving the global economic environment in which U.S. companies compete. At the same time, a strong current has existed that explained U.S. assistance as a moral imperative to help poverty-stricken countries and those trying to overcome disasters or conflict. Providing assistance for humanitarian reasons or in response to natural disasters has generally been the least contested purpose of aid by the American public and policymakers alike." 
In keeping with the theme of National Security, the report further states: "Aid objectives include promoting economic growth and reducing poverty, improving governance, addressing population growth, expanding access to basic education and health care, protecting the environment, promoting stability in conflictive regions, protecting human rights, curbing weapons proliferation, strengthening allies, and addressing drug production and trafficking. The expectation has been that, by meeting these objectives, the United States will achieve its national security goals as well as ensure a global economic environment for American products and demonstrate the humanitarian nature of the U.S. people. Some observers have returned to the view that poverty and lack of opportunity are the underlying causes of political instability and the rise of terrorist organizations, much as poverty was viewed as creating a breeding ground for communist insurgencies in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s."
Source -
Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy, Curt Tarnoff, Specialist in Foreign Affairs, Marian Leonardo Lawson, Analyst in Foreign Assistance, April 9, 2009

Types of Aid
The United States provides five principle types of aid.

  1. Bilateral Development Assistance - programs designed to promote economic and social stability in developing countries.
  2. Aid Supporting Political Security - this includes the funds targeting direct national security interests in the fight against terrorism.
  3. Humanitarian Assistance - the assistance which provides support of hunger abatement, shelter and refugee relief, especially following war, revolution and natural disaster.
  4. Multilateral Assistance - Aid which supports internationally sponsored relief efforts such as UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund).
  5. Military Assistance - aid in the form of military training and equipment.

What Does it Mean for the Resolution
Given the background information presented above and considering the implied intent of Public Forum debate, I would say this resolution is asking us to debate the Pro and Con of suspending foreign aid provided directly by the United States government and not the kinds of assistance which are delivered by private concerns, such as advocacy groups, churches, and the like. The United States government spends significant amounts of money in foreign aid with the underlying objective of promoting American hegemony throughout the world. The advocacy must establish whether the aid to Pakistan is legitimate or justified recalling the resolution does not specify a particular type of aid. It says ALL aid.


  1. What is your source for the five types of aid the U.S. provides to Pakistan?

    1. See the Tarnoff, 2009 reference cited above. Open this pdf and begin at page 6 :

  2. so with your contention on the united states givivng out aid, and the united states in return getting the 9\11 attack, and the cold war you are saying that its bad but how do you know for sure that all of our assitance is the cause of the cold war or 9\11.. what is your evidence that our aid was the cause of that??

    1. Perhaps you have misunderstood. First of all the evidence is taken from the U.S. Department of State (see this PDF file so you may verify my facts. I described how the focus and purposes of U.S. aid programs have evolved over the years. During the Cold War, we supported Latin American and newly formed nations so the Russians wouldn't get there first with their money and support. It was a way of limiting the spread of Communism, especially in the Western hemisphere. When Soviet communism collapsed and the Cold War ended, our aid programs no longer had the same objectives. For a while, there was no longer a need to support countries to stop the Soviets. This situation continued until the 9/11 attacks. The fact of the terrorist attacks had little or nothing to do with how U.S. aid was spent. But the evidence does show, that since the attacks, the State Department has found a new purpose for providing aid to countries and that is to limit safe-havens and breeding grounds for terrorist ideologies. The US aid did not trigger world events. The US focus and purpose has merely evolved as a result of world events. Hope that clears things up for you.


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