Cutting the USAID boondoggles

Mark  Moyar:
The Trump administration’s new budget outline calls for a 28% cut in funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Defenders of USAID insist that foreign aid is vital to advancing U.S. interests. They’re right—but there’s also plenty of waste.

On its website, USAID explains that the “Purple My School” program, a joint venture with the United Nations, “encourages peers, teachers and parents to become allies of LGBTI students” in eight Asian countries. “Through teachers’ facilitation, students discuss issues surrounding homophobia, how to create safe spaces for LGBTI students, and are encouraged to wear, draw, or make something purple.” (The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.)

To promote transgender rights in Central America, USAID has “helped Guatemala’s Election Tribunal update election manuals and provide trainings to electoral officials on how to be sensitive to people whose appearances are not congruent with the birth name on their personal identification card.”

During the Obama years, USAID was prominent in sectors like LGBTI rights, abortion and “social justice”—promoting agendas that were neither supported by large segments of the U.S. population nor of clear benefit to American national interests. The agency often acted as if it were a private nonprofit organization with a liberal agenda, rather than a taxpayer-funded arm of the U.S. government.

The agency’s defenders insist that such projects are the exception—that USAID’s $27 billion budget contains little that is frivolous or ineffectual. But it’s impossible to determine based on publicly available information if the amount of wasteful spending is closer to zero or 28%. USAID and its contractors have mastered the art of re-christening programs to appease congressmen and their constituents.

During the Obama years, for instance, USAID spent counterterrorism funds on traditional antipoverty programs by claiming that poverty is “exploited by extremist groups.” It justified sponsorship of Somali girls’ basketball teams and “community dialogue sessions” the agency said were “essential to the stabilization of regions that have suffered from mistrust, conflict and turmoil for decades.”
I am somewhat surprised they did not throw in "Midnight basketball" as a crime prevention matter the way the democrats attempted to do in the Clinton years.  Pandering to deviancy appears to be a major aspect of the Obama administration policy at home and abroad.  I suspect that these programs were actually counterproductive to US interests in the areas they were used.


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