Small Wars Journal

U.S. Slowly But Surely Losing its Soft Power Capability?

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 11:48am

Why Nations Are Right To Ban USAID by Mark Varga, Defense One

What is USAID good for? Revelations that the agency—which stands for the US Agency for International Development and offers humanitarian assistance around the world—funneled money to Cuba to start a social media program bent on spreading political content and eventually overthrowing Fidel Castro sent shockwaves across the world. This “digital Bay of Pigs” is just the latest installment in the never-ending series of revelations that have compromised America’s desired image as a good and just hegemon. In truth, this is simply business as usual for USAID and the swathe of related philanthropic foundations and aid donors that have been used as vehicles for US foreign policy.

Rather than gasping in surprise at USAID’s covert exploits, it is important to take a step back from the media brouhaha surrounding the organization and look at the bigger picture. Indeed, on closer scrutiny, several patterns emerge underneath the business of giving money away for supposedly high-minded causes. Saving the world and alleviating world poverty is just one such motive. Power in the form of promoting a Western-backed design on what is right is another one. USAID for one makes no secret of this mission, stating on its website that its purpose is to “further America’s interest while improving lives in the developing world.” …

Read on.