Foreign aid can help advance U.S. national interests, for example, by promoting our values globally or by demonstrating to the world the goodwill of the American people. Calls to eliminate funding outright often fail to weigh this important function.
But our lead aid agency has itself been jeopardizing this effort, and risking all-important public support, by irresponsibly funding leftist agitprop around the world—and enlisting the help of billionaire progressive activist George Soros in the process.
Trying to persuade Colombians, Macedonians, Kenyans, and the Irish to accept violations of traditional norms that are still being debated here was surely not what Congress had in mind when it passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and thereby created the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.
Support for wooly leftist causes around the globe, and teaming up with the vast network of Soros organizations trying to transform the world, isn’t new for USAID.
But for the past eight years, President Barack Obama politicized the agency to such a degree that six Republican senators in mid-March rightly called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to launch an investigation into how the agency spends billions of taxpayer dollars.
The response from a mid-level career official at the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Executive Secretary Joseph E. Macmanus, offered a pro-forma defense of USAID with sentences like, “The Department of State’s foreign assistance programs are rigorously designed, implemented, and monitored to ensure that they are based on core American values.”
Soros supporters are naturally pleased. But was the letter reflective of the administration’s political leadership? The slow pace of political appointments at the State Department—and throughout the executive branch—has created a situation where career bureaucrats and caretakers put in place by the previous administration retain an outsized influence.