Persuasive Essay on Foreign Aid

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Introduction

There are 197 countries in the world[footnoteRef:1] in 2019, out of which 126 countries are classified as developing countries[footnoteRef:2]. These countries are characterized by being less developed industrially and having a lower Human Development Index when compared to other countries[footnoteRef:3]. However, developing countries do have the potential for high growth and security when evaluating factors including the standard of living, gross domestic product, and per capita income[footnoteRef:4]. Foreign aid, which is the international transfer of capital, goods, or services, is provided to developing countries to combat issues like poverty, terrorism, natural disasters, and the destruction of the environment[footnoteRef:5]. Foreign aid provision began in 1947 when the US funded over 13 billion dollars to assist in the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, according to the Marshall Plan[footnoteRef:6]. After this, during the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the US used foreign aid as a tactic to gain support at home[footnoteRef:7], and within other countries. Even today, foreign aid is provided to developing countries by other countries, or organizations such as IMF[footnoteRef:8] and World Bank[footnoteRef:9] to help in the development of these countries. However, there is great debate about whether foreign aid actually fulfills its purpose or whether is it used by developed countries to improve their diplomatic relations and actually harms developing countries. Advocates of foreign aid argue that foreign aid can save lives and ameliorate suffering, not just in the short term but in the long term[footnoteRef:10]. However, those against foreign aid argue that an influx of foreign aid did not seem to produce economic growth in countries around the world. Rather, lots of foreign aid flowing into a country tended to be correlated with lower economic growth

Thesis

In order to discuss the first perspective i.e. that the harms of foreign aid to developing countries outweigh its benefits, let’s look at an article published in the Economist. com[footnoteRef:12], a London-based independent newspaper with no political affiliations, therefore, an impartial source. The source has been written as a weekly column in The Economist’s Free Exchange section, which discusses issues related to fluctuations in the world economy. Since the economist has a policy of keeping the author’s names anonymous, judging the credibility of the newspaper itself, the article; Cash for Conflicts[footnoteRef:13], can be seen as a reasonable source to prove the thesis i.e. the harms of foreign aid to developing countries outweighs its benefits.

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The writer starts off the discussion of the harms of foreign aid to developing countries by establishing that benefits of foreign aid do exist, but it is important to do a cost-benefit analysis before reaching a conclusion. This shows that the author recognizes the importance of the counter-narrative as well; therefore, he/she is not biased toward the argument.

Moving on to the evidence presented in the article, the writer has used two research based on two types of aid; monetary and non-pecuniary (food aid), to reach a more well-rounded conclusion about foreign aid, since foreign aid consists of a variety of monetary and non-monetary transfer of resources.

The first research has been conducted by the University of Colorado, regarding the development projects and civil-conflict deaths in the Philippines, a developing country. The research studied the impact of Community Driven Development (CCD)[footnoteRef:14]. The conclusion of the research was that due to insurgents trying to sabotage the community-driven programs, deaths were caused, ultimately leading to the conclusion that foreign aid caused these deaths. The writer of the article has provided detailed insights into this research, such as the background knowledge, as well as how the research process was conducted such as, ‘In 2012, the World Bank supported some 400 CDD programs in about 100 countries amounting to $30 billion’[footnoteRef:15] and ‘This makes the researchers’ inquiry akin to a randomized controlled trial where some municipalities basically were “treated” with the CDD program and others were not’[footnoteRef:16]. This shows that the writer has used strong evidence to strengthen his argument about how foreign aid increases civil conflict in developing countries.

The second research is related to the impact of food aid on civil conflict in 125 developing countries. Similar to the previous research, the writer has provided the specific details of the research such as ‘The results suggest that a 10% increase in American food-aid shipments to an average recipient country increases the incidence of conflict by about 4%’[footnoteRef:17]. These statistics help in strengthening the argument, by making the article more credible in terms of logical reasoning, to convince the readers.

However, apart from using this research to corroborate the author’s argument, the article also has instances where the writer is not just inclined toward his/her own argument. For example, ‘increases in food aid can be attributed solely to favorable weather conditions (which have nothing to do with civil conflicts in developing countries)’[footnoteRef:18] shows that the writer does not have a bias or vested interest in proving that foreign aid is harmful to developing countries.

Evaluating the source along the lines of language and tone, the writer has used a formal tone and made use of academic terms and statistics, thereby showing that the article is not intended for layman readers, but for professionals related to the issue of foreign aid. Moreover, since The Economist is a magazine dedicated to the field of economics and policies, it can be verified that the article has been written for people who have knowledge and interest in the field of foreign aid.

Another article that corroborates the thesis point-of-view, and the main argument of the first source; that the harms of foreign aid to developing countries outweigh its benefits is ‘The Dark Side of Foreign Aid’[footnoteRef:19], published in The Diplomat[footnoteRef:20], an online magazine, covering current-affairs in the Asia-pacific region, with no apparent political affiliations. The article has been written by Peter Kan Teo, an independent analyst, who does research on post-conflict reconstruction, therefore, he is a credible author, and the article can be deemed as credible and relevant.

This source also uses research to explain how foreign aid harms developing countries. The research has been conducted by Sophal Ear, an assistant professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, on the effect of foreign aid on Cambodia. The research concludes that foreign aid has led to bad governance and stunting development in Cambodia, therefore corroborating and adding to the point-of-view of the first source.

Throughout the article, Peter Kan Teo has used the research conducted by Sophal Ear to support his argument and also gives statistics on US aid and Chinese aid to developing countries. Therefore, this article is credible and corroborates the thesis i.e. harms of foreign aid in developing countries outweigh its benefits, and further adds to the first source by explaining more harmful effects of foreign aid other than an increase in foreign aid, such as bad governance.

Antithesis

In order to discuss the contrasting perspective i.e. the benefits of foreign aid to developing countries outweighs its harms, let's look at an article published in The Guardian[footnoteRef:21], an impartial British daily newspaper. ‘Foreign assistance, even in tough times, is a good investment’ has been written by Daniel Yohannes and Samuel Worthington. Daniel is the CEO of the US government’s Millenium Change Corporation, while Samuel is the CEO of Interaction, an alliance of NGOs in the US. The authors can be considered to have authentic knowledge on the issue, since they are handling organizations working directly, or indirectly, with foreign aid, however, for the same reason, they could have vested interests in writing the article i.e. highlighting the importance and advantages of foreign aid to developing countries, therefore, the article can be seen as biased and one-sided.

However, moving to the content of the article, the main argument established is that foreign aid has many benefits to developing countries and has given the example of Ghana, an agro-based economy that has greatly benefitted from foreign aid.

The writers have provided useful background information regarding Ghana’s economic conditions, for example, ‘In 2000, Ghana recognized that growing its economy depended on increasing agricultural productivity. The challenges were immense. In many rural areas, nine out of 10 people were living in poverty. Use of modern farming techniques was rare, and infrastructure to expand agricultural exports was inadequate.’[footnoteRef:22] The writer has cited the World Bank[footnoteRef:23], therefore backing their arguments with credible sources. Moreover, the writers have made use of statistical facts and figures to prove how economic growth increased in Ghana due to foreign aid provision. The use of this logical reasoning has strengthened the argument of the writers.

Furthermore, the writer has presented other benefits of foreign aid such as ‘Sustainable development creates stronger economies, with more consumers to trade and do business within our interconnected global marketplace. This, in turn, creates growth opportunities at home and abroad. Effective development directly improves the lives of the world's poor and contributes toward a thriving international economy that serves our shared economic interests’[footnoteRef:24]. Even though there is no backing of evidence to support the claims made by the author, the author’s hands-on experience of working with foreign aid and developing countries makes the claims credible.

Moving on to the tone and language of the article, the writer has made use of a fairly optimistic tone, highlighting only the benefits and importance of foreign aid and no mention of possible harmful effects, probably due to the writer’s vested interests in the topic.

In order to corroborate the credibility and validity of the first source, let's look at another article published in The Guardian[footnoteRef:25], written by Jeffrey Sachs, who is a professor at Columbia University. The writer has written several articles[footnoteRef:26] criticizing governments of developed countries for exploiting regions such as Africa and does not have a vested interest in the topic of foreign aid, therefore, this article and its author can be deemed as credible.

This article looks at the aid provided to combat diseases in developing countries. The writer has used a specific example of malaria-control measures carried out in sub-Saharan countries, mainly Kenya. Research conducted by Gabriel Demombynes and Sofia Trommlerova has been used to establish the need for foreign aid in the spread of malaria in Africa, after which the writer has made use of statistics as to how much aid was provided by the World Health Organization[footnoteRef:27], and the United States to prevent and treat malaria. Therefore, the writer has used relevant and authentic examples and sources to strengthen his argument that foreign aid has greatly benefitted countries. This corroborates the main idea of the first article and shows that despite its writer’s being biased toward the topic, the argument still holds value and is accepted by other people, with no vested interests as well.

Moreover, Jeffrey Sachs has also mentioned the counterargument, thereby maintaining a relatively neutral stance. An example of this is ‘The opponents of aid are not merely wrong. Their vocal antagonism still threatens the funding that is needed to get the job done, to cut child and maternal deaths by enough to meet the MDGs by 2015 in the poorest countries, and to continue after that to ensure that all people everywhere finally have access to basic health services.’

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Persuasive Essay on Foreign Aid. (2023, November 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/persuasive-essay-on-foreign-aid/
“Persuasive Essay on Foreign Aid.” Edubirdie, 21 Nov. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/persuasive-essay-on-foreign-aid/
Persuasive Essay on Foreign Aid. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/persuasive-essay-on-foreign-aid/> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Persuasive Essay on Foreign Aid [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Nov 21 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/persuasive-essay-on-foreign-aid/
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