Aiding & Abetting: Foreign Aid Failures & the 0.7% Deception

By Jonathan Foreman
December 2012
Distributed By Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781906837440                         
249 pages
$20.00 Paper original

At a time of cuts in public expenditure, Britain's Coalition government is committed not only to maintaining the UK's foreign aid budget but to increasing it, in order to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, despite opinion polls that show it to be unpopular with the electorate. Jonathan Foreman explains why scepticism about the utility and even morality of much foreign aid is more than justified; why so much of the rhetoric used to justify the UK's lavish aid policy is disingenuous or dishonest; and why 0.7 per cent of GDP is an arbitrary number unconnected with either poor country needs or rich country capability. He argues that after six decades and more than three trillion dollars of official development aid, there is little evidence for its effectiveness. Development aid tends to undermine good government, enrich corrupt tyrants and subsidise warlords rather than promote economic growth. Meanwhile, emergency or humanitarian aid, the imagery of which is used by the aid industry and the government to market all foreign aid, is a much more complicated, difficult and morally problematic activity than its promoters and many practitioners would like the public to know. While government officials claim that British aid benefits the UK as well as its intended recipients, by winning goodwill and by making foreign conflict and mass immigration less likely, there is little or no evidence that any of these claims are true. Foreman does not argue for an end to aid, but rather that it should be reality-based rather than faith-based, i.e. it should rest on realistic calculations about the likely fate of donations to poor country governments, UN agencies, international bureaucracies and large charities. He recommends abandoning the 0.7 per cent target; a Royal Commission to investigate the purpose of foreign aid; shifting up to one third of the aid budget and a significant part of UK emergency aid to those branches of the armed forces which have the capacity to deliver it more effectively than NGOs; and the funding of the BBC World Service from the aid budget.


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