Foreign Aid Doesn’t Need Oversight, It Needs To Be Abolished

by | Mar 27, 2023

Foreign Aid Doesn’t Need Oversight, It Needs To Be Abolished

by | Mar 27, 2023

ukrainian president zelenskyy address on the war

April 15, 2022, Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, delivers an address on the Russian invasion, April 15, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Credit Image: (C) Ukraine Presidency/Ukraine Presi/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire)

In an interview with ABC News last month, after it was noted that U.S. aid to Ukraine now totals at least $113 billion, President Joe Biden was told that “many” Americans were asking, “How long can we spend like this?” His response was to first question the number of Americans who were really asking such a question, and then to limit the questioners to “the MAGA crowd” and “right-wing Republicans.”

President Biden maintained that the United States is “in a situation where the cost of doing—of walking away could be considerably higher than the cost of helping Ukraine maintain its independence.”

Although President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested F-16 fighter jets, President Biden said that “for now,” the United States won’t be sending any. However, “We’re sending him what our seasoned military thinks he needs now. He needs tanks. He needs artillery. He needs air defense, including another HIMARS. There are things he needs now that we’re sending him to put him in a position to be able to make gains this spring and this summer going into the fall.”

On the same day as the president’s interview—which just so happened to be the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Russia’s military action against Ukraine—the Department of Defense (DOD) announced $2 billion of “additional security assistance” for Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The USAI enables the United States to purchase weapons for Ukraine directly from U.S. defense contractors instead of sending over its own DOD stocks to Ukraine via presidential drawdowns. “The United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements for as long as it takes,” said the DOD press release.

“As long as it takes?” Defense contractors—who used to be referred to as merchants of death—must be salivating like a rabid dog.

John Barsa, who was acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Trump administration, believes that “supporting Ukraine is important to the U.S. national interest and is also a noble cause.” However, there must be “congressional oversight” of the support. “Lots of money being spent means lots of opportunities to fund ineffective programs, or worse, social justice and other programs not ‘on-mission.’ The rule of thumb is, or should be, ‘the more that is spent, the more that oversight is needed,’” said Barsa.

John Sopko, the former Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has also warned about the need for more oversight in Ukraine, because “in Afghanistan, a massive amount of taxpayer dollars to the U.S.-allied government in Kabul was found to have been diverted to corrupt causes.”

But is congressional oversight really what American taxpayers need? Is more oversight really what American taxpayers want?

Oversight of billions for Ukraine is not what is needed, for two reasons: foreign aid and foreign policy.

It doesn’t matter what form the foreign aid for Ukraine takes—security assistance, financial support, refuge resettlement, or humanitarian aid—it is still money taken from U.S. taxpayers without their consent and given to a foreign government. How much money would be collected for Ukraine if the U.S. government went door to door and asked Americans to donate? Certainly not enough to buy Ukraine one tank or airplane, and probably not enough to buy one missile. How many Americans could even locate Ukraine on a map unless it was labeled with big, black letters? How many Americans know even the most basic history of Ukraine and Russia? How many Americans (unless they are from Russia or Ukraine) have lost a minute of sleep over the war in Ukraine? How many Americans actually care a whit about what happens in Ukraine? Foreign-aid spending is not authorized by the Constitution, is not a legitimate purpose of the federal government, and is not supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans if the money has to come out of their pockets.

For a great many years now, U.S. foreign policy has been reckless and meddling. The United States cannot and should not right every wrong or correct every injustice in the world. America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” said secretary of state (and later president) John Quincy Adams. It is not the job of the United States to police the world, put out fires around the world, intervene in other countries, or take sides in disputes between countries. The U.S. government is obligated to defend the United States and none else. America should follow a foreign policy of strict neutrality. That policy alone respects the sovereignty of other nations, guarantees a noninterventionist foreign policy, ensures that the U.S. military is not misused, keeps U.S. soldiers from fighting in senseless foreign wars, and allows American taxpayers to keep their hard-earned money.

Even if the simplistic “Russia bad, Ukraine good” narrative that is peddled by the U.S. government and its allies in the media is 100 percent true (which it certainly isn’t), it still doesn’t change anything. The U.S. government should never give assistance of any kind to any foreign government. All foreign aid should be private and voluntary. The U.S. government should never intervene in the affairs of another country or countries. Americans who want something to happen or not happen in another country should put their money where their mouths are.

In 2014, after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and Russia annexed the region, former Republican member of Congress and presidential candidate Ron Paul observed: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?” This is one of the most profound statements about U.S. foreign policy that has ever been uttered.

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished with permission.

About Laurence Vance

Laurence M. Vance is a columnist and policy adviser for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger, and book reviewer at He is also the author of Social Insecurity and The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. His newest books are War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy.

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