January 6, 2005
By Brett D. Schaefer
With U.S. aid to countries devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunami now
exceeding $350 million, hardly anyone is calling the United States
"stingy." But did the charge -- leveled by Jan Egeland, U.N.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency
Relief Coordinator, when the U.S. aid pledge was smaller -- ever
Hardly. Yet some in the international aid business cannot seem to
shake their reflexive criticism of America, despite ample evidence
of our generosity.
Mr. Egeland's criticism was based on his belief that America isn't
providing enough development assistance -- specifically, aid as a
percentage of gross national income (GNI). According to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the
U.S. is dead last in aid as a percent of GNI, at 0.15 percent. Mr.
Egeland's native Norway has a ratio of 0.92 percent.
But there are several problems with using Mr. Egeland's
Foreign aid cannot replace domestic will to adopt good policies,
without which long-term development is impossible. Instead of
focusing on the amount of assistance, the United States is trying
to maximize results by targeting aid to countries that adopt
economic freedom, bolster the rule of law, and build the strong
institutions necessary for aid to be effective.
But even without this record, the fact that the U.S. aid pledge
started small and grew larger is entirely defensible. By nature,
humanitarian aid must be tailored to individual crises: Every
single famine, earthquake, flood or other disaster is unique and
requires different types of aid and different strategies. As death
tolls climbed in the wake of the tsunami disaster and the needs of
the survivors became clearer, the United States upped its
humanitarian aid commitments to the region as quickly as necessary.
Other countries, it should be noted, did the same, gradually
increasing aid offers as the scope of the tragedy became
Criticisms of America's generosity fly in the face of reality.
International aid experts do their organizations no favors when
they criticize American largess -- especially since they would find
it impossible to follow through on their good intentions without
Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham fellow in international
regulatory affairs in the Center for International Trade and
Economics at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
First appeared on National Review Online
With U.S. aid to countries devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunami now exceeding $350 million, hardly anyone is calling the United States "stingy."
Brett D. Schaefer
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam(R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2013, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973