Each year, the United States government allots billions of dollars from their national budget towards foreign military aid. As a means to defend the country’s national security during a tumultuous financial crisis, the overspending on security seemed to be an unnecessary risk to undertake. The United States has been active in providing foreign military since World War II, with the implementation of the Marshal Plan. Today, the United States has continued to significantly provide aid to the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as the war on terror continues. While there have been some threats made to the United States in recent years, one tends to questions whether the amount of this funding is cohesive to the internal threat level. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the billions of dollars being spent for security is a necessary expenditure for an already damaged economy, or whether it can be better used within the country for to aid essential citizen needs. In recent years, politicians and scholars alike have begun to question this idea and whether the United States is overextending their patriotic muscle. The United States foreign policy must address whether there is a need to continue funding other nations military’s at the expense of American taxpayers. It is also relevant to address whether the United States is further ‘fueling’ tensions in the Middle East, specifically between funding Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, countries who already have a history of hostile relations. Even though the payout for American arms is beneficial to the country, it should be discussed whether these profits are ethical or even economically sustainable long term. Military assistance to foreign nations has had a profound effect on the United States as it has created increasing pressure and controversy in the nation. Middle Eastern countries feel the need to outdo one another in terms of their military strength, using the American’s as a source for artillery, essentially acting as a middleman or a war lord. In fact the United States is the largest exporter of weapons; and it willingly supplies many hostile hotspots in the Middle East with arms. It is reasonable to question whether Americans would feel comfortable in their role as an instigator to violence and impending threat, while military contractors and arms dealers have provided the weapons as a means of military weapons .
My three arguments: National interest has been undermined through the foreign military aid, it has threatened national security, divested the economy and the fund can be used much more efficiently.
Thesis: The continuation of supporting foreign military aid ultimately undermines American National Security devastates the American economy and lastly the aid can help both national security and boost the economy.
Before examining foreign military aid, it is vital to recognize that the United States has historically been providing foreign military assistance to protect national interests and security. The Marshall plan provides the best example in which the United States provided billions of dollars to support Western Europe as a means to recover their economy after World War II. The Marshall plan became a success due to the circumstances Europe had, which was its inability to rebuild itself without foreign capital as the war had devastated there economy. In response, the United States provided 4 to 5 billion dollars of imports to Western Europe per year. There are multiple reasons why the United States wanted Europe to be self-sustainable, three key reasons. To ensure Europe continues to trade with the United States, secondly ensure that European nations are able to pay back there debt and thirdly to make Europe pro-American to counter the Soviet threat. It was in the United States national interest to rebuild post war Europe’s economy as they where the biggest importers of American goods. The Marshall plan was a complete success to rebuilding war torn European States; providing foreign aid was justifiable to protecting American interests and strengthen national security. However, once we compare the circumstances of post war Europe to and the war on terror banner it is evident that the circumstances do not justify the need for military aid. The United States has been providing weapons rather then providing needed goods or services, especially as the Middle East is experiencing Arab spring and an already constrained economy. According to the International Monterey Fund (IMF), the Middle East and Pakistan economy has dropped between 24-5% as of 2011, mainly due to lower oil prices, high unemployment as a result of revolts, and flooding in Pakistan. Europe did not need arms but rather capital and goods as well as services to restore their economy; this lead to economic miracles in Germany and Japan, providing weapons is simply useless to the Middle East. The United States has argued that the military aid is to help nations combat terrorism however to effectively remove terrorist they need to ensure the local population are not supporting terrorists; hence the U.S needs to win the hearts of the local population. Providing weapons to the government that the local population detests merely strengthens their commitment towards supporting terrorists. Providing weapons to nations such as Pakistan or the Middle East is questionable, if the Unites States is to ever reduce and win the war on terror they need the support of the local population. This can be achieved by simply giving Pakistan and the Middle East aid that would benefit there economy such as building schools rather then building bases that only strengthens terrorism. Providing weapons to the Middle East and Pakistan has lead to the local population to becoming suspicious of the United States intensions. For example after the CIA had faked a vaccine drive in search of Bin Laden, the local population had become suspicious of any U.S aid and their own government’s inability to being sovereign. Once again when comparing post war Europe, it appears that the United States failed to pursuit pro-American sentiments within the Middle East and Pakistan. Unlike the Marshall, plan which improved the economy and American sentiments in Europe it failed in the Middle East simply because military assistance was useless to the region. Providing military assistance to the Middle East and Pakistan was not justifiable as the Marshal plan had been and only arose suspicion and ultimately undermined American national security.
If the United States continues to provide weapons to Israel, the Middle East and Pakistan they create a viscous cycle of increased tensions that may escalate to a war within the region. Tensions between Israel, Iran, the United States and Saudi Arabia have dramatically increased this year alone as Iran has been active in building up nuclear facilities. Israel has responded by a willingness to attack the facilities however the repercussion for an attack may plunge the gulf states harboring American bases to war. Although the United States has provided Israel and the Gulf States military aid on the rationalization to combat terror it has resulted on anxiety where neighbors may attack at any moment threatening to drag the United States to war. The United States cannot be dragged to another war especially as the war on terror has already costed the U.S trillions of dollars has yet to end; a war would only furthers damage national security and national interests. It has also been evident that the United States bases and embassies within the Middle East and Pakistan have become terrorist targets. For example, Hezbollah who has been an Iranian-backed army of guerrilla fighters have been attacking Israel bases including American installations. Hezbollah has the capability to fire 45,000 rockets from Lebanon while expressing there willingness to aid Iran if war where to ever occur. The United States has also had their embassy and military bases targeted by terrorists. For example in September 13, 2011 the Taliban had attacked Kabul attacking NATO headquarters and the U.S embassy escalating the 10-year insurgency. This establishes a cold reality for the United States, even as Bin Laden the leader of Al-Qaeda is killed, the war on terror continued and will continue as long as the United States supplies weapons to the region, which has only increased tensions. United States must recognize that military aid will not win them the war but rather prolong it; they must recognize the need to remove support for terrorism. If the Unites States wants to successfully combat terrorism, they must aid nations suspected of harboring terrorists develop their education and economy. By helping a nations evolve their economy this would in turn win the hearts and minds of the people ultimately reducing prolonged U.S interference in the region, which also eases tensions between Iran and Israel. Providing foreign military aid has undermined national security, unlike the Marshall plan, funding the Middle East and Israel has only fueled suspicion and tensions in the region, which will only grow as terrorist attacks increase.
The United States has heavily funded the Middle East especially states that host American bases on the banner of combating “the war on terrorism”. The Costs for the United States into providing military aid has been 15 billion per year. The United States also has 662 overseas military bases in 38 countries since 2010, elaborating the U.S global military reach. It has been often cited that the United States invests over 700 billion on its military the largest in the world however the recent recession in 2008 has questioned on whether the U.S is able to maintain such a large military presence as well as if such basis are necessary for U.S National security
The so-called ‘war on terror’ has led the United States to spending trillions with little progress to an end to the war, another aspect is hosting over (700) bases already costing billions. These costs are further increased by the United States generous military assistance which have been mostly been given to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the recent military assistance static has been a total of 15 billion dollars.
The United States has Continued to fund the gulf region, while at the same time the Middle East has spent over 132 Billion on military rearmament as a response from Iran. The process of providing weapons to regions that are politically unstable can undermine the United States National security as what had historically occurred when the U.S supplied Al-Qaeda with weapons. Providing funding and weapons to these regions can have sever consequences especially as the Arab Spring is still in process meaning these nations may use these weapons to harm their own civilians.
The Middle East has one vital resources that the world craves oil, in which Saudi Arabia owns 14% of the world’s oil. Unlike post war Europe, Saudi Arabia continually exports 230 billion dollars worth of oil; meaning they have a healthy and lucrative economy. Although an argument can be made that, the United States provides foreign military aid into protecting The United States has heavily funded the Middle East especially states that host American bases on the banner of combating “the war on terrorism”. The so-called ‘war on terror’ has led the United States to spending trillions with little progress to an end to the war, another aspect is hosting over (700) bases already costing billions. These costs are further increased by the United States generous military assistance which have been mostly been given to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the recent military assistance static has been a total of 15 billion dollars.
Fred Block, “Economic Instability and Military Strength: The Paradoxes of the 1950 rearmament decision”, Politics and society, 10:1, 1980, pp 159.