Combating global poverty should be (and has traditionally been) a bipartisan issue given the severe economic and national security implications it has on today’s global citizenry. The International Affairs Budget encompasses the United States’ capacities regarding economic, diplomatic and development efforts, as well as security and global health assistance. USAID assistance helped stall the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and USAID continues to partner with local governments and organizations to ensure any further outbreaks are mitigated. The Department of State has consistently affirmed that “USAID [is an] indispensable tool for resolving the most difficult national security issues and protecting our freedoms.”
Globalization is defined as the increasing movement of goods, services, people, disease, pollution and ideas across borders or the increasing interconnection of societies across the world. This interconnection benefits the United States on various fronts including innovation, economics and science, but such necessitates a relationship that goes beyond an explicit transaction.
Foreign aid is an investment in national security because America does not exist in a vacuum. For the seven billion people who do not live in the United States, poverty corrodes already weak institutions and drives people in susceptible states into the hands of terrorist networks. The addressing of basic needs cannot be overlooked prior to combating other systemic economic issues at play.
For example, I am particularly passionate about orphaned children because my mother died when I was six years old. Despite my stable socioeconomic background and caring community, the loss was devastating.
Consider a 12-year-old orphan living overseas who is now the “man of the house” tasked with caring for four siblings: their main focus is rightly going to be getting food and taking care of basic needs for their family. Thus, it is naïve to seek to address mental wellness prior to everything else, as there is the possibility that these individuals are struggling to even meet their physical needs.
Consequently, as stated in “The Rise of the Child Terrorist,” basic foresight reveals these orphans to be particularly susceptible to terrorist recruitment. The devastating attacks in Sri Lanka over Easter weekend reveal the sobering reality of global terror networks and warrants American concern.
According to UNICEF in 2017, the estimated number of orphans in Africa is 52 million. These children may appear far from the doorstep of many Americans, but the notion that this child “provider” would not be enticed to such a promise of food, water, shelter, protection and belonging via these terrorist organizations is a terrible misjudgment. Furthermore, this notion demonstrates evident lack of global, situational awareness among Americans.
U.S. constituents should be alarmed by President Trump’s proposed budget cuts for the year 2020, which aim to slash funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department by 30%. This projected reduction would fiscally reduce our international efforts to less than 1% of the Federal Budget.
As Americans and voters, we are called to consider the all-encompassing impacts of our actions, and in the case of the International Affairs Budget, to raise our voices.
Tristana Leist is a senior studying business administration law with a concentration in public policy.