Background on Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy topics in the 2020 election cycle:

Foreign Policy Topics for 2015-2016
Foreign Policy Topics for 2014-2016
New Foreign Policy Topics for 2012
Arab Spring
Foreign Aid
The 2016 election has candidates demanding a decrease in foreign aid (or an increase). The actual numbers are listed below; the foreign aid allocation, while controversial, is not economically large: it represents 1.5% of federal expenditures ($45 billion out of $1.3 trillion in 2009). Total foreign aid is broken down into military and non-military components, since many would not consider military assistance to be foreign aid but rather war spending by proxy. For comparison, the total U.S. budget is about $3,800 billion.

News on Foreign Aid (Candidates' recent excerpts)

Foreign aid advocates (including Hillary Clinton) suggest increasing foreign aid to 1% of the total budget; that increase would be at least an eight-fold increase.

Billions / year Economic
Foreign Aid
2003 $16.1  $8.0  $24.1
2004 $20.4  $5.9  $26.3
2005 $25.2  $7.6  $32.8
2006 $21.9  $10.7  $32.6
2007 $21.8  $12.9  $34.7
2008 $26.9  $15.4  $42.3
2009 $29.8  $14.9  $44.7
2010 $29.0  $13.3  $42.3
2011 $30.7  $16.5  $47.2
2012 $31.1  $14.4  $45.6

The distribution of foreign aid is not evenly distributed and indeed is politically-determined. The table below shows the distribution for the top ten recipient countries for 2010 to 2012 (average distribution for the three years, in millions). Those three years represent President Obama's first three budgets without influence of President Bush.

Millions / yearEconomic
Foreign Aid
Afghanistan $3,050   $6,700   $9,750
Israel $30   $2,950   $2,980
Iraq $1,200   $1,500   $2,700
Pakistan $1,100   $500   $1,600
Egypt $200   $1,300   $1,500
Jordan $500   $300   $ 800
Colombia $500   $100   $ 600
West Bank/Gaza$600   $0   $ 600
Russia $400   $100   $ 500
Mexico $300   $100   $ 400

United Nations
Israel & Palestine
North Korea
Asian Economic Crisis
The economies of the Asia-Pacific region until 1997 seemed to be rushing towards prosperity on par with the US and Europe. But in July 1997, the currencies of Thailand and Indonesia collapsed, followed by recessions throughout East Asia. The 'Asian Miracle' countries were characterized by limited democracy (usually one-party) in open economies (albeit via political insiders). The current situation is:
  • Japan: In slump since 1990 and in recession since June 1998; Japan outlined an Emergency Economic Package in Nov. 1998.
  • Indonesia: President Suharto resigned after 1998 riots in which 1,200 were killed; elections promised for 1999.
  • East Timor: Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 shortly after Portugal granted it independence. This island of 800,000 people (to Indonesia's 200 million) voted 80% for independence in August 1999. In September, Pres. Habibie invited in an Australian-led, UN-sponsored force of 7,000, including US support groups but no troops, to stop a massacre by the Indonesian army.
  • China: Holding the line on devaluing its currency is credited with stopping total Asian economic collapse. China's economy has been growing by 8-10% annually in recent years, by far the world's fastest growth. They maintain a partially open economy with a Communist government.
  • Asian Tigers: Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan all suffered minor recessions and are currently recovering.
  • ASEAN: Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand were economically weaker than the more developed 'Tigers,' and suffered accordingly. Nevertheless, ASEAN admitted 4 new members (Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos), which may open and democratize those countries.

      Amazon books on Foreign Policy:
    • American Foreign Policy
    • Embracing Israel/Palestine
    • The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism

      References and citations on Foreign Policy:

    • U.S. Trade Representative, "U.S.-China Trade Facts: 2018," downloaded October 2020
    •, "The World Bank In China," downloaded October 2020
    • Statistics Times, "Comparing United States and China by Economy," 02 Aug 2019
    • Wikipedia, "List of countries by incarceration rate," downloaded November 2020
    • The Conversation, "China's military might is much closer to the US than you probably think," by Peter Robertson, October 1, 2019
    • Department of Defense, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republics of China," 2020
    • Wikipedia, "List of states with nuclear weapons," downloaded October 2020
    • BBC, "The Uighurs and the Chinese state: A long history of discord," 20 July 2020
    • Council on Foreign Relations, "China's Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang," by Lindsay Maizland, June 30, 2020
    • State Department, "U.S. Relations With Hong Kong," Aug. 28, 2020
    • South China Morning Post, "Hong Kong protests, one year on," downloaded Oct. 2020
    • Time magazine, "How Beijing's National Security Crackdown Transformed Hong Kong in a Single Month," by Laignee Barron, August 4, 2020
    • Federation of American Scientists, "The Kurds in Turkey," downloaded Oct. 2020
    • Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine, "Kurdish Repression in Turkey," June 1982
    • BBC, "Turkey v Syria's Kurds: The short, medium and long story," 23 October 2019
    • CNN, "Russian meddling efforts intensifying as US election nears," by Jeremy Herb, September 12, 2020
    • CNN, "White House was warned that Giuliani was being used by Russians to 'feed misinformation' to Trump," by Devan Cole, October 15, 2020
    • Reuters, "Armenia says Turkey seeks to continue genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh," Oct. 7, 2020
    • BBC, "Q&A: Armenian genocide dispute," 30 October 2019
    • Wall Street Journal, "Trump Eyes a New Real Estate Purchase: Greenland," by y Vivian Salama, Rebecca Ballhaus, Andrew Restuccia and Michael C. Bender, Aug. 16, 2019
    • The Guardian, "Trump cancels Denmark trip after PM says Greenland is not for sale," by Edward Helmore, 20 Aug 2019
    • BBC, "Jamal Khashoggi murder: Saudi court commutes death sentences," 7 September 2019
    • NPR, "Trump And Pompeo Have Enabled A Saudi Cover-Up Of The Khashoggi Killing," by Aaron David Miller & Richard Sokolsky, October 2, 2019
    • The Guardian, "America is likely complicit in war crimes in Yemen. It's time to hold the US to account," by Mohamad Bazzi, 3 Oct 2019
    • USA Today, "North Korea says diplomacy with Trump has failed," Kim Hjelmgaard, June 12, 2020
    • Reuters, "Heir unapparent: If North Korea faces succession, who might replace Kim?," by Sangmi Cha, May 2, 2020
    • Reuters, "Biden on North Korea: Fewer summits, tighter sanctions, same standoff," by Josh Smith, Hyonhee Shin, & Trevor Hunnicutt, Aug. 20, 2020
    Other candidates on Foreign Policy: Background on other issues:
    2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
    V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
    Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
    Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
    Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
    Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
    Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
    Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
    Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
    CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
    Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

    2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
    CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
    Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
    Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
    V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
    Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
    CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
    Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
    Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
    V.C.Arvin Vohra (L-MD)
    Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
    Gov.Bill Weld (L-MA)

    2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
    State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
    Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
    Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
    Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
    Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
    Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
    Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
    Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
    Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
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