This article in Foreign Policy is upsetting. Not just from a professional perspective as a USAID contractor, but also as a human person who’s seen the good that USAID does. There are some disturbing contracts out there (funding groups supporting regime change in Syria comes to mind), and you can certainly question the massive waste that accompanies, say, any contract in Afghanistan, but right now I’m working with contracts that are cutting carbon emissions in Indonesia, building environmentally-friendly roads to distressed communities in Nepal, and fighting wildlife trafficking in East Africa. That’s good.
The thing is that the concrete proposals Trump claimed to champion, the ones that would actually help his constituencies. . . those are not going to happen. No self-respecting bought-and-paid-for corporate hack Republican (or Democrat, for that matter) is going to vote for a trillion dollar infrastructure package. They’re not going to support fair trade deals, taking a step back from a world leadership role, or even, in all likelihood, funding a wall-building project. For the record, I don’t believe Trump actually supports any of these things either. But his voters do. And if they can’t get them, there’s still the other, darker half of the Trump campaign. Trump’s implicit promise to his voters was not only that he would champion their interests, but also that he would destroy those of their enemies; that all the elitist pricks who had prospered while wages stagnated and mortality rates rose would finally start to feel a bit of pain. And elitist pricks love USAID.
It’s easier to tear down foreign aid than to build a wall. That’s why I’m scared. And it’s sad that those same Syrian regime change programs and Afghanistan money pit contracts are the only thing keeping Lindsay Graham from destroying USAID.