Money won’t by happiness. And when the money is American dollars marked for international development, it certainly won’t buy friends abroad.
That’s the gist of a recent NPR article examining the relationship between America’s popularity among a country’s citizens and how many aid dollars the U.S. sends that country’s way per year.
Some specifics from NPR, which focused on the Middle East, include the following figures:
- In Egypt, which gets $1.5 billion a year from the U.S., only 16% had a positive view of the U.S.
- Among Palestinians, who’ve been getting about $500 million annually, only 16% viewed the U.S. favorably.
- In Jordan, which receives more than $600 million a year, only 14% had a positive view.
- Farther east in Pakistan, which has been getting close to $1 billion a year, a mere 11% think nice thoughts about the U.S.
The stats on views toward the U.S. were taken from a recent Pew survey focused on the image of the U.S. and China in the eyes of the rest of the world. Author Greg Myre points out that U.S. dollars aren’t intended to buy goodwill among the people of foreign countries but to help with development in often unstable areas. Nor is it always the case that countries who receive aid dislike the U.S. In Israel, for example, 83% of citizens have a positive impression of the U.S. while the government receives $3 billion annually, more than any other country.
“Still,” he writes, “the findings raise questions about what the U.S. is getting for the $50 billion or so it sends out to the rest of the world in annual assistance.” But as one commenter astutely pointed out, “Most of the aid money goes to the government, not to the people.” If U.S. dollars are seen as backing corrupt governments, like in Pakistan, than the U.S. becomes nothing more than an extension of that oppressive force.