Throughout the history of our (formerly?) great country, we have taken pride in assisting other burgeoning democracies throughout the world. As the quintessential example of that “shining city on a hill,” we provide money, arms, and other assets to fledgling nations in order to further the cause of freedom. Apparently, the grand design was that someday we would be able to look at the map and realize that the good old U.S. of A. was now the patron saint of a slew of democratic states. After that, I guess the entire globe would then join hands and sing a song of peace, freedom, and love, with one glorious voice. Huzzah! Three cheers for the United States, mother of the world and father of free citizens everywhere!
Or, at least, that’s how this whole foreign aid thing started, way back around World War I. High minded idealists like Herbert Hoover used the cover of WWI reconstruction to create organizations such as the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and the American Relief Administration. No one argued back then that it was a good thing to help war-torn countries get back on their feet, especially when we needed their assistance to win World War I. The total monies spent on both of these organizations from 1920-1943 was around $400 million, with 98 percent of that money going to Belgium in the form of loans. Of course, when you hear loans, you think “payback.” Unfortunately, most of the loans the U.S. made to Belgium were eventually forgiven. Not only that, but we had also forgiven Belgium’s pre-armistice debt and agreed to seek the money from Germany. Germany — the country that had just been decimated when they lost the war.