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Why Do Nations Invest In International Aid? Ask Norway. And China (Washington Post)
October 27, 2017
From the article:
How much are acts of generosity worth in international relations? For affluent countries, foreign aid has helped spread power and influence. Donors give foreign aid in part because it will benefit them. For example, political scientist Carol Lancasterfinds that domestic politics and international pressures combine to shape how and why donor governments give aid, and that aid was initially based on “hard-headed, diplomatic realism.”
The Trump administration’s proposal to slash foreign aid by more than one-third (including drastic cuts to global health and humanitarian aid) represents a major shift away from the goal of using aid to attain “smart power,” a strategy that supplements the ability to exercise brute force with efforts to win hearts and minds in far-off places. At the other end of the spectrum is Norway, a small but wealthy country, which has consistently tried to bolster its “soft power” ever since it helped broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine in the 1990s. Between these two extremes is China, which is using foreign aid to acquire greater soft power as it gears up for a more active role in world affairs...
As it struggles to better integrate foreign aid and national interests, Norway has been falling in the Center for Global Development’s rankings of countries committed to development — one of the most cited indexes among aid advocates and civil society organizations. Such results directly undermine its carefully cultivated image of being a humanitarian superpower.