Development Aid for Development’s Sake

Almost daily, the United States and Europe brandish threats to impose economic sanctions or cut off development assistance unless some vulnerable government accepts their political strictures. The most recent threats are towards the new Hamas-led government in Palestine. Other recent examples include threats vis-à-vis Chad, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Bolivia, Uganda, and long-standing sanctions against Myanmar.

Such tactics are misguided. The use of development aid as a political stick merely deepens the suffering of impoverished and unstable countries, without producing the political objectives sought by donors.

To understand why requires taking a long-term view of geopolitics, particularly the gradual decline of US and European global domination. Technology and economic development are proliferating across Asia and the developing world, while the spread of literacy and political awareness during the past century made national self-determination by far the dominant ideology of our age, leading to the end of colonialism. Nationalism continues to produce powerful political “antibodies” to American and European meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.

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