Oregon Magazine

Background from Special Report with Britt Hume, FOX, 1/24/08
A Foreign Aid Program that works?  

Sometimes, less is more

Daniel Noriega  (famed member of the Marxist Nicaraguan Sandanistas), a man who is politically tied to Iran, and the president of Nicaragua, recently made a speech, praising America.?  

Yup.  Here's why.

Somebody in our G.W. Bush-brand government came up with the idea of tying the aid money to performance.  Not that it hasn't always been thus, but in this case there's a difference.

This program is called the "Millennium Challenge."  Unlike past donations, this approach  doesn't hand out the money until the country has already met the requirements attached to the gift.  In the past, it has always been the other way around. 

A recent aid package aimed at Nicaragua had 17 benchmarks.  Some evidence that elections have been opened up.  Proof that fewer people expressing their opinions publicly had been jailed or shot.  Stuff like that.  The check was not put in the mail until progress on them had been made. 

Twenty-two Sandinista mayors saw that cash dangling over their heads and told Mr. Noriega that their roads needed improving, sanitation systems required overhauling, and so forth. They publicly endorsed the Millennium Challenge.  Not one of them has been shot, yet.

Amazing stuff.

Meanwhile, UNDP (United Nations Development Program) money to N. Korea -- which also had similar "requirements" attached to it -- was handed out the usual way.  What happened?  America ponies up a quarter of a billion dollars worth of it, and ignoring the requirements, North Korea spent the dough on a missle program.  

These two examples support a conclusion beyond Reagan's "trust but verify" argument.  

Clearly, the best approach is to verify first and trust later.  This approach adds "incentive" to the process.


© 2008 Oregon Magazine