HUMAN RIGHTS AND US FOREIGN AID: A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF AID ALLOCATIONS BEFORE AND DURING THE WAR ON TERROR
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In this study, I examine the influence of human rights considerations on the US foreign aid decisionmaking process during the war on terror and, for comparative purposes, prior to its onset. The findings indicate that respect for human rights has been negatively related to the yes/no decision to allocate economic aid and the amount allocated since 9/11. In other words, more economic aid has flowed--and more readily--to regimes with poor human rights records since the onset of the war on terror. The findings also indicate that human rights considerations failed to influence post-9/11 military aid decisions. While these findings run counter to the Congressionally-mandated positive relationship between human rights and foreign aid, and my own expectations of American exceptionalism in the guise of human rights promotion, additional analysis indicates they were not a first. I also found that respect for human rights was negatively related to economic aid allocations under every administration since Reagan's and during the post-Cold War era. Only during the Cold War, and only for military aid, did better human rights practices increase the prospects of a regime receiving aid. In analyzing allocations to partners and non-partners in the war on terror, I found that human rights considerations negatively influenced decisions on economic aid amounts for both groups but only the yes/no decision for military aid allocations to partners. Looking across the models, and taking into account the influence of the control variables, one possible explanation for the lack of positive findings on the human rights variable becomes apparent: other, competing considerations--namely addressing recipient "need," promoting democracy, and confronting perceived threats to national security--regularly overshadow human rights concerns, leading US decisionmakers to extend aid to regimes with questionable human rights practices.