International politics is a persistent struggle for power, not necessarily to create constant open warfare, but to maintain a state of anarchy, and accumulate as much power as possible, using it to defend and pursue their national interest. Donors are usually driven by this mindset, whether on purpose or not(Whelan, 2004).
The wealthiest nations who have vast interest in the poorer nations they assist, to further reach national, economic and ideological intentions where they regularly forget the main aim, development. Good intentions might have damaging effects from time to time. Foreign aid has always had geopolitical ramifications(Sugema, 2005), and now more than ever it is perceptible. While employing aid to address a variety of different goals, including military assistance.
According to aid architects, foreign aid has never represented a significant expenditure for donor countries as a percent of their total government budget; it is often a substantial share of the government budget and even the GDP of some recipients. Most donor countries have not reached the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) goal of allocating 0.7% of their GDP for economic development aid(Tingley, 2012)
National security consideration always remained at the heart of foreign aid. However, after 9/11, the relation between national security and foreign aid changed to take a greater proportion in the US foreign aid. This has also impacted on other bilateral aid flows to developing countries.
In the case of Iraq, we have received a large volume of foreign aid that played a crucial role in the recovery of the economy and reestablishing the infrastructure. Still, the deeply rooted problems, before, during and after the American invasion have no end in sight. Reminding each and every Iraqi, that the dream of comfortable living is far from coming true.
Despite a great deal of talk about ending the suffering of minorities to remain in their ancestral homelands, they are still facing unfulfilled promises and an unprecedented impact of foreign governments’ refusal to provide aid directly to those in need, survivors of genocide, leaving them trapped facing deep frustration, to a point where the world seemed to be already witnessing their disappearance.
The extinction of a nation could not be averted once their numbers had declined below the critical level and that level was reached when ISIS swept through the region, following severe political and economic consequences before the potentially catastrophic end that we all are expecting. The situation is bleak and has deteriorated significantly in the past six years. A genocide following a complete civil collapse and eventually a pandemic.
We need a new approach to foreign aid strengthening the citizen-state compact by helping to improve public accountability. Aid must promote enabling policy and legal environment for civic space where citizen groups can advance businesses and growth. Foreign aid should also play an important role in strengthening the voice and participation of citizens in developing countries to demand transparency and accountability from their governments and make best use of limited resources responsibly.
Beyond North-South collaboration, South-South collaboration should be explored to promote knowledge, technology transfer, trade and investments for development by Global South for advancing SDGs. Regional integration will help mutual learning and growth without depending heavily on Global North for foreign aid.
Sugema, A. C. (2005). How Significant and Effective Has Foreign Aid to Indonesia Been? ASEAN Economic Bulletin.
Tingley, H. V. (2012). Introduction to the Geopolitics of Foreign Aid. Projects at Harvard.
Whelan, F. G. (2004). Hume and Machiavelli: Political Realism and Liberal Thought. Newyork : Lenxington Books .
Author: Maryam Sryoka is an International Relations and Economics graduate with experience in development cooperation and policies. An advocate of peace and religious freedom, she is fond of teaching and writing on contemporary social and political issues empowering women and youth. Currently, she is Coordinator of ACT Alliance Iraq Forum – a platform for joint humanitarian and development actions for the ACT Alliance Members. She can be reached at Msryoka@gmail.com