Global Democracy in the Age of Foreign Aid Cuts

If the Trump administration has its way, there would be a 28 percent budget slash in State Department spending. This will markedly reduce the foreign aid which the United States distributes all over the world. Although many Republicans assert that this will not happen, the proposal itself says a lot about the continuous shift in US foreign policy.

Democracy assistance

President Donald J. Trump's through his many comments and actions has suggested a deep skepticism when it comes to supporting democracies all over the world. Democracy assistance, a small but important kind of foreign aid will in all probability be hit hard.

Democracy assistance is a kind of foreign aid the American government sponsors in almost 1000 countries. Funding is provided with the explicit goal to support democracy. It supports the transition towards democracy. Existing democratic institutions are also strengthened. The program itself started during the 1980s. Before that, the American government supported dissidents and overseas political parties on a clear ad-hoc basis. The US founded National Endowment for Democracy in 1983. The semi-private foundation was exclusively devoted to shore up democracy outside US borders. The ending of the Cold War saw the State Department and USAID consistently funding democracy assistance.

Democracy assistance is not without its flaws. Many have described such aid as distinctly partisan. Compared to the last century, democracy assistance does not promote any kind of radical political change. It is observed, in a few cases, that this funding has propped up authoritarian governments, like providing support for a non-democratic Azerbaijani parliament.

Must go on

Even with these kind of flaws, stopping the democracy assistance projects will cause untold damage to democracy in a number of ways. Scholarly studies on democracy assistance by the US suggests that it plays a positive role in the countries' empirical levels of freedom. Research has also suggested that democracy assistance could help to maintain a modicum of peace posts any civil conflict. It has also been proved that a few particular kinds of democracy assistance, like support for domestic and also international election observers, have resulted in successful electoral fraud deterrence.

The State Department and United States Agency for International Development plans to distribute $2.72 billion over the 12 months of 2017. All of these have now become doubtful. This means democracy could be in trouble all over the world. Budget cuts will cut a lifeline to uncountable pro-democracy activists spread all over the globe.

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