Shifting Geostrategic Interests As Determinants Of Foreign Aid: Has The Era Of Threats From Great Power Competition Eclipsed The Era Of Threats From Violent Non-State Actors
West Point Press
Foreign assistance is intended to reflect a state’s geostrategic interests; thus, it is reasonable to assume that donor states target aid to countries in which their interests are most threatened. In practice, do countries offering foreign aid direct it to places in which their geostrategic interests are most threatened? To investigate this question, this article explores the extent to which the United States’ foreign aid flows are in line with its national security doctrines related to mitigating the ascendance of China (Era of Threats from Great Power Competition) on one hand, and international terrorism (Era of Threats from Violent Non-State Actors) on the other. Using a time-series, cross-sectional design that utilizes data regarding U.S. foreign assistance disbursements to Africa, casualties from African terrorist attacks, and Chinese investment in Africa, this article shows that U.S. interests do not align in these two realms: although competition with China and threats of international terrorism are both noted as U.S. geostrategic priorities, neither Chinese investment nor deaths by terrorism are correlated with increased U.S. foreign aid flows. These findings suggest that contrary to intuition, foreign aid allocation does not appear to reflect the United States’ prioritization of its geostrategic interests.
Jonah Isaac is a student of History and Arabic with a keen interest in data science. He has long been focused on foreign policy, having led and supported several humanitarian projects across Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Much of his professional work involves the application of data science techniques to foreign affairs topics, including disinformation, foreign aid, and building partner force capacity. The author is especially grateful for guidance throughout his research from Professor Michael Denly, Professor Amira Jadoon, Professor Jason Warner, MAJ Michael Duda, and CDT Amir Udler.
Political Science and Security Studies
Isaac, Jonah. “Shifting Geostrategic Interests As Determinants Of Foreign Aid: Has The Era Of Threats From Great Power Competition Eclipsed The Era Of Threats From Violent Non-State Actors.” West Point Journal of Politics and Security 1, no. 1 (2021): 32-46.